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EASTERN DANCES, NORTHERN MELODIES Joshua Bell
FOREIGN AFFAIRS
IRIS Orchestra
Michael Stern, conductor
Featuring: Joshua Bell, violinist

Date: Saturday, April 12, 2014
Time: 8:00 PM
Location: GPAC (Directions)

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In this blockbuster season ender, IRIS expands its forces to present three spectacular works new to the IRIS repertoire. John Adams is a towering figure who helped define the direction of contemporary American music, finding inspiration for his operatic work in historic turning points of the 20th century. The "Chairman Dances" excerpt from his groundbreaking opera "Nixon in China" is an exuberant foxtrot for large orchestra, a marvelous synthesis of minimalist style and rhythmic complexity. The night's musical feast continues as IRIS celebrates the return of violinist Joshua Bell, whose fiery technique is perfectly suited to Lalo's rhapsodic showpiece, the Symphonie Espagnole. To close the concert, the captivating power of the Arabian Nights inspires Rimsky-Korsakov to transform the19th-century fashion of Orientalism into stupendous orchestral wizardry as the tale of Scheherazade explodes in lush, dazzling color.

PROGRAM
Adams The Chairman DancesAbout this Music

Composed in 1985. Premiered on January 31, 1986 in Milwaukee, conducted by Lukas Foss.

John Adams is one of today's most acclaimed composers. Audiences have responded enthusiastically to his music, and he enjoys a success not seen by an American composer since the zenith of Aaron Copland's career: a recent survey of major orchestras conducted by the American Symphony Orchestra League found John Adams to be the most frequently performed living American composer; he received the University of Louisville's distinguished Grawemeyer Award in 1995 for his Violin Concerto; in 1997, he was the focus of the New York Philharmonic's Composer Week, elected to the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and named "Composer of the Year" by Musical America Magazine; he has been made a Chevalier dans l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres by the French Ministry of Culture; in 1999, Nonesuch released The John Adams Earbox, a critically acclaimed ten-CD collection of his work; in 2003, he received the Pulitzer Prize for On the Transmigration of Souls, written for the New York Philharmonic in commemoration of the first anniversary of the World Trade Center attacks, and was also recognized by New York's Lincoln Center with a two-month retrospective of his work titled "John Adams: An American Master," the most extensive festival devoted to a living composer ever mounted at Lincoln Center; from 2003 to 2007, Adams held the Richard and Barbara Debs Composer's Chair at Carnegie Hall; in 2004, he was awarded the Centennial Medal of Harvard University's Graduate School of Arts and Sciences "for contributions to society" and became the first-ever recipient of the Nemmers Prize in Music Composition, which included residencies and teaching at Northwestern University; he was a 2009 recipient of the NEA Opera Award; he has been granted honorary doctorates from Cambridge, Harvard and Northwestern universities, honorary membership in Phi Beta Kappa, and the California Governor's Award for Lifetime Achievement in the Arts.

The Chairman Dances (Foxtrot for Orchestra), written in 1985 on joint commission from the American Composers Orchestra and the National Endowment for the Arts, is a by-product of Adams' opera Nixon in China, premiered in Houston in October 1987. The opera, explains Michael Steinberg in his liner notes for the recording of The Chairman Dances on Nonesuch Records, is "neither comic nor strictly historical though it contains elements of both. It is set in three days of President Nixon's visit to Beijing in February 1972, one act for each day. The single scene of the third act takes place in the Great Hall of the People, where there is yet another exhausting banquet, this one hosted by the Americans."

The preface to the score gives the following description of The Chairman Dances: "Madame Mao, alias Jiang Ching, has gatecrashed the Presidential banquet. She is seen standing first where she is most in the way of the waiters. After a few minutes, she brings out a box of paper lanterns and hangs them around the hall, then strips down to a cheongsam, skin-tight from neck to ankle, and slit up to the hip. She signals the orchestra to play and begins to dance herself. Mao is becoming excited. He steps down from his portrait on the wall and they begin to foxtrot together. They are back in Yenan, the night is warm, they are dancing to the gramophone ...

"Act Three, in which both reminiscing couples, the Nixons and the Maos, find themselves contrasting the vitality and optimism of youth with their present condition of age and power, is full of shadows; Jiang Ching's and Mao's foxtrot in the opera is therefore more melancholy than The Chairman Dances. This is, uninhibitedly, a cabaret number, an entertainment, and a funny piece; as the Chairman and the former actress turned Deputy Head of the Cultural Revolution make their long trip back through time they turn into Fred and Ginger. The chugging music we first hear is associated with Mao; the seductive swaying-hips melody — La Valse translated across immense distances — is Jiang Ching's. You might imagine the piano part at the end being played by Richard Nixon."

Lalo Symphonie EspagnoleAbout this Music

Composed in 1873. Premiered on February 7, 1875 in Paris, with Pablo de Sarasate as soloist.

"Do you know the Symphonie Espagnole by the French composer Lalo?" Tchaikovsky wrote to his patroness, Nadejda von Meck. "The piece has been recently brought out by that very modern violinist, Sarasate. It is for solo violin and orchestra, and consists of five independent movements, based upon Spanish folk songs. The work has given me great enjoyment. It is so fresh and light, and contains piquant rhythms and melodies which are beautifully harmonized.... Lalo is careful to avoid all that is routinier, seeks new forms without trying to be profound, and is more concerned with musical beauty than with traditions."

Tchaikovsky's enthusiasm for Lalo's music has been shared by audiences since the Symphonie Espagnole was first heard in 1875. Lalo had labored for many years, however, before success came his way: he was almost fifty when the Divertissement for Orchestra gained him the attention of the public. It was with the Violin Concerto of 1874 and this Spanish Symphony, both written for and premiered by the Spanish virtuoso Pablo de Sarasate, that Lalo secured an international reputation.

Edouard Lalo's early musical training was at the conservatory in Lille, where he was born in 1823; he later transferred to the Paris Conservatoire to study composition and violin. Lalo started composing in the 1840s, but, discouraged by the lack of performances and publications of his music, he abandoned his creative work for almost a decade to play viola (and later second violin) in the Armingaud-Jacquard Quartet, an ensemble founded in 1855 to perform the quartets of Beethoven, Haydn, Mozart, Schumann, Mendelssohn and other of the great classical composers that did much to nurture French interest in chamber music during the following years. Lalo's muse was rekindled in 1865 upon his marriage to Bernier de Maligny, a gifted contralto who performed many of his songs in recital and who also inspired his first opera, Fiesque. The Divertissement for orchestra (1872), based on ballet music from Fiesque, was his first important success as a composer.

Encouraged by the formation of the Société Nationale de Musique in 1871 and the support of such conductors as Pasdeloup, Lamoureux and Colonne, Lalo produced a succession of instrumental works that brought him to the forefront of French music. The Violin Concerto (1874) and Symphonie Espagnole (1875), both premiered by the celebrated Spanish virtuoso Pablo de Sarasate, were followed by the D minor Cello Concerto, Norwegian Rhapsody, Symphony in G minor and the ballet Namouna. Lalo's eminent position in French music was confirmed when the government awarded him the Legion of Honor in 1888, the same year his opera Le Roi d'Ys ("The King of Ys") was premiered. Lalo's music shows the influence of Beethoven, Schubert and Schumann in its formal structures and thematic manipulation, to which he added a characteristic melodic grace, harmonic originality and skillful orchestration to create a style that reflects his own resolve to compose works of impeccable taste and refinement.

The Symphonie Espagnole, despite its name, is a true concerto in which the soloist is called upon to display significant feats of violinistic prowess, especially in quick shifts between the highest and lowest registers, a characteristic that reflects an important aspect of Sarasate's technique. The work's five movements individually employ symphonic structures, which led Lalo to write about the work's title, "It conveyed my thought — a violin soaring above the rigid form of an old symphony." The Spanish influence is heard in some of the rhythmic and harmonic components of the themes, an influence that also lured such other French composers as Bizet, Ravel, Debussy and Ibert.

The first movement is cast in a carefully developed sonata form, with a main theme employing bold upward leaps and a legato second theme in a contrasting major tonality. The nimble, dance-like second movement, in rounded three-part form, calls for both lyricism and flexibility from the soloist. The next movement is characterized by the extensive use of the Spanish rhythmic device of alternating groups of two and three notes. In the fourth movement, in rounded three-part form (A–B–A), a somber introduction leads to the melancholy main theme for the soloist. The finale, ushered in by the sound of distant peeling bells, is a rondo based on the bubbling rhythm of the saltarello.

Rimsky-Korsakov ScheherazdeAbout this Music

Composed in 1888. Premiered on December 15, 1888 in St. Petersburg, conducted by the composer.

"In the middle of the winter [of 1888], engrossed as I was in my work on Prince Igor and other things, I conceived the idea of writing an orchestral composition on the subject of certain episodes from Scheherazade." Thus did Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov give the curt explanation of the genesis of his most famous work in his autobiography, My Musical Life. His friend Alexander Borodin had died the year before, leaving his magnum opus, the opera Prince Igor, in a state of unfinished disarray. Rimsky-Korsakov had taken it upon himself to complete the piece, and may well have been inspired by its exotic setting among the Tartar tribes in 12th-century central Asia to undertake his own embodiment of musical Orientalism. The stories on which he based his work were taken from the Thousand and One Nights, a collection of millennium-old fantasy tales from Egypt, Persia and India which had been gathered together, translated into French, and published in many installments by Antoine Galland beginning in 1704. They were in large part responsible for exciting a fierce passion for turquerie and chinoiserie among the fashionable classes of Europe later in the century, a movement that left its mark on music in the form of numerous tintinnabulous "Turkish marches" by Mozart, Beethoven, Haydn and a horde of lesser now-faded lights, and in Mozart's rollicking opera The Abduction from the Seraglio. The taste for exoticism was never completely abandoned by musicians (witness Bizet's The Pearl Fishers or Puccini's Madama Butterfly or Turandot or even The Girl of the Golden West; Ravel prided himself on his collection of Oriental artifacts), and proved the perfect subject for Rimsky-Korsakov's talent as an orchestral colorist. Preliminary sketches were made for the piece in St. Petersburg during the early months of 1888, the score was largely written in June at the composer's country place on Lake Cheryemenyetskoye, near Luga, and the orchestration completed by early August. Scheherazade was a success at its premiere in St. Petersburg in December, and it has remained one of the most popular of all symphonic works.

To refresh the listener's memory of the ancient legends, Rimsky-Korsakov prefaced the score with these words: "The sultan Shakriar, convinced of the falsehood and inconstancy of all women, had sworn an oath to put to death each of his wives after the first night. However, the sultana Scheherazade saved her life by arousing his interest in the tales she told him during 1,001 nights. Driven by curiosity, the sultan postponed her execution from day to day, and at last abandoned his sanguinary design. Scheherazade told many miraculous stories to the sultan. For her tales she borrowed verses from the poets and words from folk-songs combining fairy-tales with adventures." To each of the four movements of his "symphonic suite" Rimsky gave a title: The Sea and Sinbad's Ship, The Story of the Kalandar Prince, The Young Prince and the Young Princess and Festival at Baghdad — The Sea — Shipwreck. At first glance, these titles seem definite enough to lead the listener to specific nightly chapters of Scheherazade's soap opera. On closer examination, however, they prove too vague to be of much help. The Kalandar Prince, for instance, could be any one of three noblemen who dress as members of the Kalandars, a sect of wandering dervishes, and tell three different tales. "I meant these hints," advised the composer, "to direct but slightly the hearer's fancy on the path which my own fancy had traveled, and leave more minute and particular conceptions to the will and mood of each listener. All I had desired was that the hearer, if he liked my piece as symphonic music, should carry away the impression that it is beyond doubt an Oriental narrative of some numerous and varied fairy-tale wonders."

Of the musical construction of Scheherazade, Rimsky-Korsakov noted, "A characteristic theme, the theme of Scheherazade herself, appears in all four movements. This theme is a florid melody in triplets, and it generally ends in a free cadenza. It is played, for the most part, by the solo violin." There is another recurring theme, given in ponderous tones in the work's opening measures, which seems at first to depict the sultan. However, the composer explained, "In vain do people seek in my suite leading motives linked always with the same poetic ideas and conceptions. On the contrary, in the majority of cases, all these seeming leitmotives are nothing but purely musical material, or the given motives for symphonic development. These given motives thread and spread over all the movements of the suite, alternating and intertwining each with the other. Appearing as they do each time under different moods, the self-same motives and themes correspond each time to different images, actions and pictures." Well, then, if there is here no programmatic plot and if the movements tumble forth in some sort of free musical fantasy, how is the attentive listener to find his way through Rimsky-Korsakov's story of Scheherazade? Perhaps the advice of Donald N. Ferguson about this veritable orgy of blazing orchestral color and atmospheric sensuality is profitably heard: "Ecstasies of imaginatively fulfilled desire: visions of celestial luxury engendered in the hashish-fevered mind of some squalid dreamer in the market place of Baghdad or Teheran — such are the tales of Scheherazade and the Arabian nights."

ARTISTS
Joshua Bell violinAbout this Artist

Often referred to as the "poet of the violin," JOSHUA BELL is one of the world's most celebrated violinists. He continues to enchant audiences with his breathtaking virtuosity, tone of sheer beauty, and charismatic stage presence. His restless curiosity, passion, universal appeal, and multi-faceted musical interests have earned him the rare title of "classical music superstar." Bell's most recent challenge is his appointment as the new Music Director of the Academy of St Martin in the Fields, the first person and first American to hold this post since Sir Neville Marriner formed the orchestra in 1958. The ensemble's first 15-concert tour to the U.S. garnered rave reviews, and as one orchestra member blogged in Gramophone "the audience reaction all tour has been nothing short of rock concert enthusiasm." Their first recording under Bell's leadership as Music Director/conductor will be the 4th and 7th symphonies of Beethoven to be released by Sony Classical February 12, 2013 with plans to eventually perform and record all the Beethoven symphonies.

Equally at home as a soloist, chamber musician, recording artist and orchestra leader, Bell's 2012 summer appearances included the premiere of a new concerto for violin and double bass by Edgar Meyer performed by Bell and Meyer at Tanglewood, Aspen and the Hollywood Bowl. In addition Bell appeared at the Festival del Sole, Ravinia, Verbier, Salzburg, Saratoga and Mostly Mozart festivals. He kicked off the San Francisco Symphony's fall season followed by performances with the Philadelphia Orchestra and the Boston, Seattle, Omaha, Cincinnati and Detroit Symphonies. Fall highlights included a tour of South Africa, a European tour with the Academy of St Martin in the Fields and a European recital tour with Sam Haywood.

In 2013 Bell will tour the US with the Cleveland Orchestra and Europe with the New York Philharmonic as well as perform with the Tucson, Pittsburgh, San Diego and Nashville Symphony Orchestras.

Joshua Bell currently records exclusively for Sony Classical and since his first LP recording at age 18 on the Decca Label, he has recorded more than 40 CDs. Sony releases include French Impressions with pianist Jeremy Denk, featuring sonatas by Saint-Saens, Ravel and Franck, At Home With Friends, Vivaldi's The Four Seasons with The Academy of St Martin in the Fields, The Tchaikovsky Concerto with the Berlin Philharmonic, as well as The Red Violin Concerto, The Essential Joshua Bell, Voice of the Violin, and Romance of the Violin which Billboard named the 2004 Classical CD of the Year, and Bell the Classical Artist of the Year. Bell received critical acclaim for his concerto recordings of Sibelius and Goldmark, Beethoven and Mendelssohn, and the Grammy Award winning Nicholas Maw concerto. His Grammy-nominated Gershwin Fantasy premiered a new work for violin and orchestra based on themes from Porgy and Bess. Its success led to a Grammy-nominated Bernstein recording that included the premiere of the West Side Story Suite as well as the composer's Serenade. Bell appeared on the Grammy-nominated crossover recording Short Trip Home with composer and double bass virtuoso Edgar Meyer, as well as a recording with Meyer of the Bottesini Gran Duo Concertante. Bell also collaborated with Wynton Marsalis on the Grammy-winning spoken word children's album Listen to the Storyteller and Bela Flecks' Grammy Award recording Perpetual Motion. Highlights of the Sony Classical film soundtracks on which Bell has performed include The Red Violin which won the Oscar for Best Original Score, the Classical Brit-nominated Ladies in Lavender, and the films, Iris and Defiance.

Always seeking opportunities to increase the violin repertoire, Bell has premiered new works by composers Nicholas Maw, John Corigliano, Aaron Jay Kernis, Edgar Meyer, Behzad Ranjbaran and Jay Greenberg. Mr. Bell also performs and has recorded his own cadenzas to many of the major violin concertos.

Bell has been embraced by a wide television audience with appearances ranging from The Tonight Show, Tavis Smiley, Charlie Rose, and CBS Sunday Morning to Sesame Street and Entertainment Tonight. In 2010 Bell starred in his fifth Live From Lincoln Center Presents broadcast titled: Joshua Bell with Friends @ The Penthouse. Other PBS shows include Great Performances – Joshua Bell: West Side Story Suite from Central Park, Memorial Day Concert performed on the lawn of the United States Capitol, and A&E's Biography. He has twice performed on the Grammy Awards telecast, performing music from Short Trip Home and West Side Story Suite. He was one of the first classical artists to have a music video air on VH1 and he has been the subject of a BBC Omnibus documentary. Bell has appeared in publications ranging from Strad and Gramophone to, The New York Times, People Magazine's 50 Most Beautiful People issue, USA Today, The Wall St. Journal, GQ, Vogue and Readers Digest among many. In 2007, Bell performed incognito in a Washington, DC subway station for a Washington Post story by Gene Weingarten examining art and context. The story earned Weingarten a Pulitzer Prize and sparked an international firestorm of discussion which continues to this day.

Growing up with his two sisters in Bloomington, Indiana, Bell indulged in many passions outside of music, becoming an avid computer game player and a competitive athlete. He placed fourth in a national tennis tournament at age 10, and still keeps his racquet close by. At age four, he received his first violin after his parents, both mental health professionals, noticed him plucking tunes with rubber bands he had stretched around the handles of his dresser drawers. By 12 he was serious about the instrument, thanks in large part to the inspiration of renowned violinist and pedagogue Josef Gingold, who had become his beloved teacher and mentor. Two years later, Bell came to national attention in his highly acclaimed debut with Riccardo Muti and the Philadelphia Orchestra. His Carnegie Hall debut, an Avery Fisher Career Grant and a notable recording contract soon followed, further confirming his presence in the musical world.

In 1989, Bell received an Artist Diploma in Violin Performance from Indiana University where he currently serves as a senior lecturer at the Jacobs School of Music. His alma mater honored him with a Distinguished Alumni Service Award, he has been named an "Indiana Living Legend" and is the recipient of the Indiana Governor's Arts Award.

In 2011 Bell received the Paul Newman Award from Arts Horizons and the Huberman Award from Moment Magazine. Bell was named "Instrumentalist of the Year, 2010 by Musical America and that same year received the Humanitarian Award from Seton Hall University. In 2009 he was honored by Education Through Music and he received the Academy of Achievement Award in 2008 for exceptional accomplishment in the arts. In 2007 he was awarded the Avery Fisher Prize and recognized as a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum. He was inducted into the Hollywood Bowl Hall of Fame in 2005.

Today Bell serves on the artist committee of the Kennedy Center Honors and is on the Board of Directors of the New York Philharmonic. He has performed before President Obama at Ford's Theatre and at the White House and recently returned to the Capital to perform for Vice President Biden and President of the People's Republic of China, Xi Jinping.

Bell performs on the 1713 Huberman Stradivarius violin and uses a late 18th century French bow by Francois Tourte.

Michael Stern conductorAbout this Artist

Michael Stern BioMichael Stern founded IRIS Orchestra in 2000, and holds the title of founding Artistic Director and Principal Conductor. Under Stern's direction, IRIS has been unanimously heralded for the brilliance of its playing, its varied programming with special emphasis on American contemporary music, and for its acclaimed recordings on the Naxos and Arabesque labels. IRIS has embraced as a central part of its mission a deep commitment to furthering American composers and has commissioned works by Stephen Hartke, Richard Danielpour, Edgar Meyer, Adam Schoenberg, Jonathan Leshnoff, and Ellen Taaffe Zwilich, among others.

The 2009-10 season also marks Stern's fifth as Music Director of the Kansas City Symphony. Their performances in the inaugural year were greeted universally with public and critical acclaim, and since then the orchestra has been hailed for its remarkable artistic and institutional growth and development. The Symphony and Stern have already made three recordings together; their latest disc, titled "Britten's Orchestra" was released in November of 2009 under the Reference Recordings label, and has glowing rave reviews.

In 2000 Stern concluded his tenure as chief conductor of Germany's Saarbrücken Radio Symphony Orchestra. The first American chief conductor in the orchestra's history, he was offered the post almost immediately after making his debut with them in March 1996. In addition to their work in concert, for broadcast and tour Stern and the orchestra made several recordings of American repertoire, notably a disc of Henry Cowell's works, as well as a series devoted to the music of Charles Ives, including a live recorded performance of the "Universe" Symphony and their first recording of the "Emerson" piano concerto.

In September 1991, he was appointed permanent guest conductor of the Orchestre National de Lyon in France, a position which he held for four years. He has also appeared with the national orchestras of Paris, Bordeaux, Toulouse. Last year, he bena a three year stint as the Principal Guest Conductor of the Orchestre National de Lille. Elsewhere, Stern has led such orchestras as the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic, the Oslo Philharmonic, the Bergen Symphony, the Beethovenhalle Orchestra in Bonn, the Deutsche Symphoniker (DSO) in Berlin, the Budapest Radio Symphony Orchestra, the Israel Philharmonic, the Moscow Philharmonic, the Helsinki Philharmonic, the Santa Cecilia Orchestra in Rome, the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra in Munich, and the Chamber Orchestra of Lausanne. He has also been a frequent guest conductor of the Tonhalle Orchestra in Zurich and has recorded both with that orchestra and with the London Philharmonic for Denton Records. In the United Kingdom, he has conducted the London Symphony, the London Philharmonic, the BBC Symphony (London), and the English Chamber Orchestra. Stern has appeared in the Far East with such orchestras as the National Symphony of Taiwan, the Singapore Symphony and Tokyo's NHK Symphony, and he has toured China with the Vienna Radio Symphony.

In North America, Michael Stern has conducted the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, the Philadelphia Orchestra, the Pittsburg Symphony, New York Philharmonic, the Saint Louis Symphony, the Atlanta Symphony, the Houston Symphony, the Baltimore Symphony, the Toronto Symphony, the National Arts Centre Orchestra in Ottawa, the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, the Montreal Symphony Orchestra, the Indianapolis Symphony, and the National Symphony in Washington, D.C., among many others. He also appears regularly at the Aspen Music Festival and has taught at American Academy of Conducting at Aspen. From 1986 to 1991, Stern was the assistant conductor of the Cleveland Orchestra. In September 1986, he made his New York Philharmonic debut as one of three young conductors invited by Leonard Bernstein to participate in a conducting workshop that culminated in two concerts at Avery Fisher Hall.

Stern received his degree from the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia, where his major teacher was the noted conductor and scholar Max Rudolf (whose famous textbook, "The Grammar of Conducting," Stern co-edited for its third edition). He also edited a new volume of Rudolf 's collected writings and correspondence, published by Pendragon Press. His studies have included two summers at the Pierre Monteux Memorial School in Hancock, Main, under the tutelage of Charles Bruck. Born in 1959, Michael Stern is a graduate of Harvard University, where he earned a degree in American History in 1981. He makes his home in Kansas City and in New York with his wife, Shelly Cryer, and their two daughters Hannon and Nora.

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EASTERN DANCES, NORTHERN MELODIES Alexander Fiterstein
EASTERN DANCES, NORTHERN MELODIES
IRIS Orchestra
Michael Stern, conductor
Featuring: Alexander Fiterstein, clarinetist

Date: Saturday, November 16, 2013
Time: 8:00 PM
Location: GPAC (Directions)

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Inspired by the folk traditions of their native lands, three remarkable compositions for string orchestra demonstrate the extraordinary musical ingenuity of Bartók, Dvořák, and Nielsen. Bartók's Divertimento for Strings bears his characteristic stamp: dense harmonic richness, intricate rhythms and humor; its movements range from buoyant and gypsy-like to mysterious, melancholy "night music." Dvořák's Serenade for Strings weaves simple melodies and structures into a work of astonishing sophistication and tremendous harmonic and rhythmic variety, one of the cornerstones of the repertoire. The clarinet concerto of Carl Nielsen, perhaps Denmark's greatest composer, is full of shifting moods that exploit the full range of the solo clarinet, the perfect showcase for the virtuosity of the brilliant young clarinetist Alexander Fiterstein, making his IRIS debut.

PROGRAM
Bartók Divertimento for StringsAbout this Music

Composed in 1939. Premiered on June 11, 1940 in Basle, Switzerland, conducted by Paul Sacher.

"Yes, those were horrible days for us, too, those days when Austria was attacked," Bartók responded from Budapest on April 13, 1938 to his loyal friend in Basle, Switzerland, Mrs. Oscar Müller-Widmann. "The most frightful thing for us at the moment is that we face the threat of seeing Hungary also given over to this regime of bandits and murderers. I cannot imagine how I could live in such a country.... Strictly speaking, it would be my duty to exile myself, if that is still possible. But even under the most favorable auspices, it would cause me an enormous amount of trouble and moral anguish to earn my daily bread in a foreign country.... All this adds up to the same old problem, whether to go or stay." Given the unsettled and frightening political situation under which all eastern Europeans found themselves during the terrible days of 1938 and 1939, it is little wonder that Bartók's creativity was undermined. He managed to complete the Violin Concerto No. 2 in December 1938, but then found himself too preoccupied to undertake any further original work. Paul Sacher, the conductor of the Basle Chamber Orchestra and a close friend who had commissioned the Music for Strings, Percussion and Celesta two years before, recognized that Bartók needed to leave Budapest if his creativity was to be revived. Sacher invited the Bartóks to spend the summer of 1939 at his chalet at Saanen in the massif of Gruyère in Switzerland, and commissioned a new piece from him for his orchestra. Bartók accepted both of the invitations, and arrived at Saanen in July. Even in Switzerland, however, Bartók could not escape the ominous European political situation. "The poor, peaceful, honest Swiss are being compelled to burn with war-fever," he wrote to his son Béla in Hungary on August 18th. "Their newspapers are full of military articles, they have taken defense measures on the more important passes, etc. — military preparedness. I saw this for myself on the Julier Pass; for example, boulders have been made into road-blocks against tanks, and such like attractions. It's the same in Holland. I do not like your going to Rumania — in such uncertain times it is unwise to go anywhere so unsafe. I am also worried whether I shall be able to get home from here if this or that happens."

Once installed at Saanen, however, Bartók retreated into a welcome isolation to undertake Sacher's commission. "Fortunately I can put this [war] worry out of my mind if I have to — it does not disturb my work," he continued in his letter to Béla. "Somehow I feel like a musician of olden times — the invited guest of a patron of the arts. For here I am, as you know, entirely the guest of the Sachers; they see to everything — from a distance. In a word, I am living alone — in an ethnographic object: a genuine peasant cottage. The furnishings are not in character, but so much the better, because they are the last word in comfort. They even had a piano brought from Berne for me.... The janitor's wife cooks and cleans, and my wish is her command. Recently, even the weather has been favoring me. However, I can't take advantage of the weather to make excursions: I have to work: a piece for Sacher himself (something for a string orchestra); in this respect also my position is like that of the old-time musician. Luckily the work went well, and I finished it in fifteen days (a piece of about 25 minutes). I just completed it yesterday." The work was the Divertimento for String Orchestra, one of Bartók's most immediately accessible compositions. The halcyon Swiss interlude during which he produced this piece was not to last, however. Almost as soon as he had begun the Sixth Quartet at Saanen, word came from Budapest of his beloved mother's death. He returned home immediately and spent the winter in Hungary, but in April 1940 he sailed to America for a concert tour with Joseph Szigeti. After an arduous journey home that summer to settle his affairs and collect his wife, he went back to New York in October and never again saw his native Hungary.

Bartók left no specific indication concerning his use of the 18th-century appellation for the Divertimento. Since the piece does not include the dance forms characteristic of that genre in Mozart's day, perhaps he meant the title to denote the music's predominantly high-spirited emotional content, or its use of the old concerto grosso technique of opposing a group of soloists to the larger body of the orchestra, or simply the situation in which it was composed, as he noted in his letters. At any rate, the only information that he gave about the Divertimento was a laconic response to Sacher's question about its form: "First movement, sonata form; second movement, approximately A–B–A; third movement, rondo-like."

The main theme of the opening sonata-form movement is a lively violin strain in swinging meter given above a steady accompaniment in the lower strings. The complementary melody, ushered in by widely spaced octaves, is presented by the soloists with interjections from the ensemble. The development section is intricately imitative, and spills over into the recapitulation, where the themes are subject to still further elaborations. (Concerning the extensive thematic working-out that marks so much of his music, Bartók once admitted, "The extremes of variation, which is so characteristic of folk music, is at the same time the expression of my own nature.") The somber nature of the second movement, which stands in strong contrast to the surrounding music, may well have been influenced by the tragic events of 1939. It is in a three-part form (A–B–A), whose outer sections, based on a restless, chromatic theme, enclose highly charged music that grows from a dramatic, repeated-note outcry of the violas. The joyous finale, which resumes the high spirits of the opening movement, is disposed in several sections, with the principal theme, first presented by the solo violin, returning to mark the movement's progress.

Nielsen Clarinet Concerto, Op. 57About this Music

Composed in 1928. Premiered on October 11, 1928 in Copenhagen, conducted by Emil Telmanyi with Aage Oxenvad as soloist.

Carl Nielsen, Denmark's greatest composer, was fascinated by the wind instruments of the orchestra all his life. As a boy, he received instruction on the cornet and demonstrated such early proficiency that he was able to perform as a military trumpeter in Odense by the age of fourteen. Among his earliest compositional ventures during those teenage years were some dance pieces for the Odense band and a quartet for cornet, trumpet and two trombones. In the six symphonies of his maturity, which form the heart of his output, Nielsen always took special care with the scoring of the wind and brass instruments. He not only exulted in writing passages deliberately intended to challenge the technique of the individual instruments, but he also tried to capture something of their unique characteristics in his music. His interest in composing specifically for the winds was spurred in 1921 when he heard a rehearsal of Mozart's Sinfonia Concertante in E-flat major (K. 297b) by the Copenhagen Wind Quintet. He produced a Wind Quintet (Op. 43) the following year, and also determined to write a concerto for each of the members of the Copenhagen ensemble that would be tailored to the technique and personality of the individual musicians. He was able to finish only the concertos for flute and clarinet (there is a third concerto for violin), though these works are among the most important for their instruments written during the 20th century.

Nielsen once compared the clarinet to "a hysterical woman" who "can be at once warm-hearted and totally hysterical, mild as balm and screaming as a streetcar on ill-lubricated rails." While this quote would undoubtedly raise some contemporary hackles, Nielsen's intent was not sexist but was rather to show the enormously wide range of expression of which he felt the clarinet capable. Each of these different moods is invoked during the course of the Concerto, which often provides the soloist with some of the most challenging technical problems encountered anywhere in the instrument's repertory. After the premiere, Aage Oxenvad, for whom the work was written, said, "Nielsen may well be able to play the clarinet himself, or else he never could have found exactly the most difficult notes to play on it." The soloist was not the only one challenged by this work, however, as the composer explained in a letter to a former student, Nancy Dalberg. "In my new Concerto for clarinet and orchestra," he wrote, "I have been so free in the part-writing for the instrumentation that I really have no idea how it will sound. Perhaps it will not sound well, but it does not entertain me to compose music when I must go on in the same manner." This statement takes on an added perspective when we know that Nielsen had suffered a major heart attack two years before composing this work, and his health at this time (1928) was poor.

Of Nielsen's mature compositional style, Vagn Kappel wrote, "It might be said that the composer did not break with the major-minor mode; he rather built into that system a new melodious feeling akin to church modes. The feeling of pentatonic is extremely strong and distinct in his music. Moreover, chromaticism plays a great part in his more important instrumental compositions.... A distinctive feature of his instrumental melody is a tendency to allow the tune to weave, for a long time, around a central tone. These new harmonies have some relation to Impressionism, which inspired him, by its combined chords, its non-functional harmonies." To these qualities must be added a keen sense of contrapuntal texture and a fine ear for instrumental sonorities. (Notice in the Concerto, for example, how the dark sonorities of bassoons and horns — the only wind instruments employed in the orchestra — complement but never dominate the solo clarinet.)

"In the Clarinet Concerto," wrote Robert Simpson, "choleric humor, pathos and kindliness are mingled with conflict, and the objectivity of the work is shown in the inflexible sense of purpose it contains. The music has a fractious tendency to change its texture without warning, but this does not indicate pure subjectivity; it may perhaps be regarded as a commentary on the consequences of willful individualism — subjectivity under observation, in fact." The conflict is represented by the snare drum, which goads and challenges the soloist throughout much of the course of the work. (The drum plays a similarly disruptive role in the stunning Fifth Symphony, one of Nielsen's masterpieces.) The Concerto is constructed in a single span, with several sections corresponding roughly to traditional movements: an opening Allegro, a deeply felt Adagio, a vivacious triple-meter scherzo and a rhythmic finale. The structure is not easily followed, however, and the first-time listener is advised to give more heed to the virtuosic exploits of the soloist and the variety of moods explored than to a detailed observation of the form. This work repays careful attention with special rewards not easily found in any other music. Nielsen lived with a foot in each of two musical worlds, and he speaks with a distinctive voice that preserves the values of vanishing 19th-century style while exploring the exciting new language of 20th-century art.

Dvořák Serenade for Strings in E major, Op. 22About this Music

Composed May 3-14, 1875. Premiered on December 10, 1876 in Prague, conducted by Adolf Cech.

In the mid-1860s, Emperor Franz Joseph, in a magnanimous burst of generosity, established a State Commission to award grants to aid struggling artists in the eastern provinces of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. In the summer of 1874, less than a year after his marriage and just as the newlyweds were expecting their first child, the young Bohemian composer Antonín Dvořák decided to apply for the prize to supplement his meager income as organist at Prague's St. Adalbert Church. He first presented himself at the Prague City Hall to obtain official certification of his poverty, and then gathered together a hefty stack of his recent scores — the Third and Fourth Symphonies, the Dvur Kralové Songs, the overtures to the operas Alfred and King and Charcoal Burner, a later-destroyed Romeo and Juliet Overture, a piano quintet and a string quartet — and sent them with his application for assistance to Vienna.

The members of the grants committee were a most distinguished lot — Johann Herbeck, Director of the Court Opera, the renowned critic Eduard Hanslick and the titan of Viennese music himself, Johannes Brahms. Their report noted that Dvořák possessed "genuine and original gifts" and that his works displayed "an undoubted talent, but in a way which as yet remains formless and unbridled." They deemed his work worthy of encouragement and, on their recommendation, the Minister of Culture, Karl Stremayer, awarded the young musician 400 gulden, the highest stipend bestowed under the program. It represented Dvořák's first recognition outside his homeland, and his initial contact with Brahms and Hanslick, both of whom would prove to be powerful influences on his career through their example, artistic guidance and professional help. An excited burst of compositional activity followed during the months after Dvořák learned of his award, in February 1875: the G major String Quartet, the Moravian Duets for Soprano and Tenor (it was these delectable pieces which, when he submitted them to support an application for another government grant three years later, caused Brahms to recommend him to the publisher Simrock), the B-flat Piano Trio, the D major Piano Quartet, the E-flat String Quintet, the Fifth Symphony and the lovely Serenade for Strings all appeared with inspired speed.

The Serenade for Strings, Op. 22, written in only eleven days in May 1875, is one of Dvořák's most popular short compositions. In his classic study of the composer's music, Otakar Sourek noted that the piece is "mainly cast in a poetic mood, with an overtone of ardent longing, yet not altogether devoid of a certain cheerful gaiety." As its name implies, this Serenade is lighter in character, simpler in structure and less weighty in argument than the larger orchestral genres. The gentle opening movement is cast in a three-part form whose outer sections grow from a short, songful phrase presented immediately by the second violins. The movement's central portion is based on a melodic motive that tours up and down the chords of the harmony in tripping rhythms. A sweetly nostalgic waltz is presented as the second movement. The third movement is a fully developed scherzo with a bright, good-natured main theme and intervening lyrical episodes. The deepest emotions of the Serenade are plumbed in the Larghetto, a tenderly romantic song of almost Tchaikovskian introspection. Reminiscences of this music and of the opening movement occur during the vivacious finale, a lively folk dance brimming with bubbling high spirits.

ARTISTS
Alexander Fiterstein clarinetAbout this Artist

Clarinetist Alexander Fiterstein is recognized for playing that combines flawless technique and consummate musicianship with graceful phrasing and a warm soulful tone. Considered one of today's most exceptional clarinet players, he has performed in recital and with prestigious orchestras and chamber music ensembles throughout the world. Winner of a 2009 Avery Fisher Career Grant Award, Mr. Fiterstein has been praised by The New York Times for possessing a "beautiful liquid clarity," and The Washington Post wrote, "Fiterstein treats his instrument as his own personal voice, dazzling in its spectrum of colors, agility and range. Every sound he makes is finely measure without inhibiting expressiveness."

As a soloist, Mr. Fiterstein has appeared with the Orchestra of St. Luke's at Lincoln Center, Simon Bolivar Youth Orchestra of Venezuela, Belgrade Philharmonic Orchestra, China National Symphony Orchestra, Danish National Symphony Orchestra, Israel Chamber Orchestra, Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra, KBS Symphony Orchestra in Seoul, Korea, Polish Chamber Philharmonic, Tokyo Philharmonic and the Vienna Chamber Orchestra. He has performed in recital at the National Gallery of Art, the Kennedy Center, the 92nd Street Y, Carnegie's Weill Hall, the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston, the Louvre in Paris, Suntory Hall in Tokyo, and the Tel-Aviv Museum.

A dedicated performer of chamber music, Mr. Fiterstein frequently collaborates with distinguished musicians and ensembles, and performs at esteemed chamber music festivals and societies. Among the highly regarded artists he has performed with are Daniel Barenboim, Mitsuko Uchida, Richard Goode, Emanuel Ax, Pinchas Zukerman, Steven Isserlis and Elena Bashkirova; and he has joined the American, Borromeo, Daedalus, Fine Arts, Jerusalem, Mendelssohn, Muir and Vogler string quartets and appeared with the Ensemble Wien-Berlin. Mr. Fiterstein was a member of the prestigious Chamber Music Society II of Lincoln Center from 2004 to 2006, and continues to perform with the CMS each season. He also participated in the Marlboro Music Festival for four summers and toured with Musicians from Marlboro. Mr. Fiterstein has performed chamber music at Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, the 92nd Street Y, the Kennedy Center and the Library of Congress in Washington DC, and at the Louvre in Paris; and he has appeared at the Mecklenburg-Vorpommern Festival in Germany, the Storioni Festival in Holland, and the Jerusalem International Chamber Music Festival. This season he will rejoin the Daedalus Quartet for performances in Washington, DC; return to the Bridgehampton Chamber Music Festival, and perform with the Boston Chamber Music Society. He will also perform with the Goldstein-Peled-Fiterstein Trio in St. Paul and Baltimore.

Mr. Fiterstein is the founder of The Zimro Project and the Alexander Fiterstein Trio. The Zimro Project, founded in 2008, is a unique ensemble dedicated to incorporating Jewish art music into chamber music programs that is inspired by the Zimro Ensemble, a group that nurtured the music of Jewish composers and culture nearly a century ago in St. Petersburg, Russia. This season The Zimro Project will perform at the Brooks Center for the performing arts at Clemson University. The Alexander Fiterstein Trio was also formed in 2008 with cimbalom player Walter Zev Feldman and accordionist Christina Crowder. The trio regularly performs a program of Klezmer music from the traditional Eastern European Jewish wedding ceremony.

Alexander Fiterstein has worked with composers John Corigliano and Osvaldo Golijov and has had pieces written for him by Samuel Adler and Mason Bates, among others. He performed the U.S. premieres of Henrik Strindberg's Clarinet Concerto "Minne," Harrison Birtwistle's "Pulse Shadows" and Paul Schoenfield's clarinet trio. A recording of Schoenfield's trio, performed by Mr. Fiterstein with James Tocco and Yehuda Hanani, was released in May 2010 on the Naxos label. Mr. Fiterstein's upcoming recordings include an album of clarinet music by Ronn Yedidia to be released by Naxos in April 2012, and a recording of Weber's Clarinet Concertos with the San Francisco Ballet Orchestra conducted by Martin West.

During the 2011-12 season, Mr. Fiterstein will perform the world premiere of Roger Zare's clarinet concerto "Bennu's Fire" with the California State University Northridge Wind Ensemble at ClarinetFest 2011 in Los Angeles, and the world premiere of a new arrangement of Julius Chajes' Hebrew Suite for piano trio and clarinet by Sarah Nemtsov and Alexander Veprik's Chant rigoreux for clarinet and piano for Pro Musica Hebraica at the Kennedy Center's Terrace Theater. He will also perform Mozart's Clarinet Concerto with the Lubbock Symphony and Sean Hickey's Clarinet Concerto with the St. Petersburg Philharmonic in Russia (which will be recorded and released by the Naxos label). An alumnus of the Interlochen Arts Academy, Mr. Fiterstein will play excerpts from Weber's second clarinet concerto with the Interlcohen Arts Academy Band led by Donald McKinney as part of Academy's 50th anniversary tour.

Mr. Fiterstein was born in Belarus. At the age of two, he immigrated with his family to Israel where he later studied at the Israel Arts and Science Academy. After attending the Interlochen Arts Academy, Mr. Fiterstein graduated from the Juilliard School, and his teachers include Charles Neidich and Eli Heifetz. He is the first prize winner of the Young Concert Artists International Auditions, the Carl Nielsen International Clarinet Competition, and the "Aviv" competitions in Israel; and he is the recipient of numerous awards from the America-Israel Cultural Foundation and the Bunkamura Orchard Hall Award (Tokyo). Mr. Fiterstein is the clarinet professor at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities.

Michael Stern conductorAbout this Artist

Michael Stern BioMichael Stern founded IRIS Orchestra in 2000, and holds the title of founding Artistic Director and Principal Conductor. Under Stern's direction, IRIS has been unanimously heralded for the brilliance of its playing, its varied programming with special emphasis on American contemporary music, and for its acclaimed recordings on the Naxos and Arabesque labels. IRIS has embraced as a central part of its mission a deep commitment to furthering American composers and has commissioned works by Stephen Hartke, Richard Danielpour, Edgar Meyer, Adam Schoenberg, Jonathan Leshnoff, and Ellen Taaffe Zwilich, among others.

The 2009-10 season also marks Stern's fifth as Music Director of the Kansas City Symphony. Their performances in the inaugural year were greeted universally with public and critical acclaim, and since then the orchestra has been hailed for its remarkable artistic and institutional growth and development. The Symphony and Stern have already made three recordings together; their latest disc, titled "Britten's Orchestra" was released in November of 2009 under the Reference Recordings label, and has glowing rave reviews.

In 2000 Stern concluded his tenure as chief conductor of Germany's Saarbrücken Radio Symphony Orchestra. The first American chief conductor in the orchestra's history, he was offered the post almost immediately after making his debut with them in March 1996. In addition to their work in concert, for broadcast and tour Stern and the orchestra made several recordings of American repertoire, notably a disc of Henry Cowell's works, as well as a series devoted to the music of Charles Ives, including a live recorded performance of the "Universe" Symphony and their first recording of the "Emerson" piano concerto.

In September 1991, he was appointed permanent guest conductor of the Orchestre National de Lyon in France, a position which he held for four years. He has also appeared with the national orchestras of Paris, Bordeaux, Toulouse. Last year, he bena a three year stint as the Principal Guest Conductor of the Orchestre National de Lille. Elsewhere, Stern has led such orchestras as the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic, the Oslo Philharmonic, the Bergen Symphony, the Beethovenhalle Orchestra in Bonn, the Deutsche Symphoniker (DSO) in Berlin, the Budapest Radio Symphony Orchestra, the Israel Philharmonic, the Moscow Philharmonic, the Helsinki Philharmonic, the Santa Cecilia Orchestra in Rome, the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra in Munich, and the Chamber Orchestra of Lausanne. He has also been a frequent guest conductor of the Tonhalle Orchestra in Zurich and has recorded both with that orchestra and with the London Philharmonic for Denton Records. In the United Kingdom, he has conducted the London Symphony, the London Philharmonic, the BBC Symphony (London), and the English Chamber Orchestra. Stern has appeared in the Far East with such orchestras as the National Symphony of Taiwan, the Singapore Symphony and Tokyo's NHK Symphony, and he has toured China with the Vienna Radio Symphony.

In North America, Michael Stern has conducted the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, the Philadelphia Orchestra, the Pittsburg Symphony, New York Philharmonic, the Saint Louis Symphony, the Atlanta Symphony, the Houston Symphony, the Baltimore Symphony, the Toronto Symphony, the National Arts Centre Orchestra in Ottawa, the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, the Montreal Symphony Orchestra, the Indianapolis Symphony, and the National Symphony in Washington, D.C., among many others. He also appears regularly at the Aspen Music Festival and has taught at American Academy of Conducting at Aspen. From 1986 to 1991, Stern was the assistant conductor of the Cleveland Orchestra. In September 1986, he made his New York Philharmonic debut as one of three young conductors invited by Leonard Bernstein to participate in a conducting workshop that culminated in two concerts at Avery Fisher Hall.

Stern received his degree from the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia, where his major teacher was the noted conductor and scholar Max Rudolf (whose famous textbook, "The Grammar of Conducting," Stern co-edited for its third edition). He also edited a new volume of Rudolf 's collected writings and correspondence, published by Pendragon Press. His studies have included two summers at the Pierre Monteux Memorial School in Hancock, Main, under the tutelage of Charles Bruck. Born in 1959, Michael Stern is a graduate of Harvard University, where he earned a degree in American History in 1981. He makes his home in Kansas City and in New York with his wife, Shelly Cryer, and their two daughters Hannon and Nora.

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Peter Serkin
Peter Serkin
PASSIONATE COLORS
IRIS Orchestra
Michael Stern, conductor
Featuring: Peter Serkin, piano
Date: Saturday, October 12, 2013
Time: 8:00 PM
Location: GPAC (Directions)

Commissioned by IRIS in 2007, "Findng Rothko" earned Adam Schoenberg the ASCAP Morton Gould Young Composer Award, and has since been performed by a dozen orchestras across the United States. IRIS proudly presents an encore performance of this evocative piece, inspired by the luminous color fields of Mark Rothko's canvases. In the IRIS tradition of championing music both brand new and centuries old, the program includes the stormiest and most dramatic of Mozart's late symphonies, his genuis in full flower. In turn, the inspiration of Mozart is apparent throughout Beethoven's First Piano Concerto, which brings the incomparable artistry of the great American pianist Peter Serkin to his long overdue debut with IRIS.

PROGRAM
Adam Schoenberg Finding RothkoAbout this Music

Composed in 2006. Premiered on January 13, 2007 in Germantown, Tennessee by the IRIS Orchestra, conducted by Michael Stern.

Adam Schoenberg, born in the western Massachusetts town of Northampton in 1980, grew up in a musical environment, improvising and playing the piano from the age of three. Schoenberg received his baccalaureate in music composition from Oberlin (2002) and his master's degree (2005) and doctorate (2010) from Juilliard, where he was a C.V. Starr Doctoral Fellow; his teachers have included John Corigliano, Robert Beaser, Jeffrey Mumford, Lewis Nielson and George Tsontakis. Schoenberg has received awards and grants from ASCAP, Meet the Composer, International Brass Chamber Music Festival, Southern Arts Federation and Society for New Music, as well as the prestigious Charles Ives Scholarship from the American Academy of Arts and Letters in 2006. He was a MacDowell Colony Fellow in 2009 and 2010, Guest Composer at the Aspen Music Festival and School in 2010 and 2011, and 2012 BMI Composer-in-Residence at the Blair School of Music at Vanderbilt University; he was Composer-in-Residence with the Kansas City Symphony in 2012-2013. In 2012 Schoenberg became the first American classical composer to sign with Universal Music Publishing Classical Group and Ricordi London. A committed educator, Adam Schoenberg is on the faculty at UCLA, where he teaches composition and orchestration. He has also presented lectures and master classes at Juilliard, University of Missouri/Kansas City, Oberlin and other leading colleges and conservatories. His commissions include those from the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, IRIS Orchestra, Northern Ohio Youth Orchestra, Sybarite Chamber Players, Blakemore Trio, Cleveland Orchestra trumpeter Jack Sutte, harpist Gretchen Van Hoesen of the Pittsburgh Symphony, Nick Tolle and the Consortium of Vibraphone Players, and New Juilliard Ensemble. An accomplished film composer, Schoenberg has scored two feature-length movies and several shorts. One of his recent scores, Graceland, co-written with his father, Steven Schoenberg, was premiered at the 2012 Tribeca Film Festival.

Schoenberg wrote of Finding Rothko, "In February of 2006, I visited several museums in Manhattan seeking inspiration on which to base a new commission from the IRIS Orchestra. When I came across a few Rothko paintings housed in the Museum of Modern Art, I had a very strong, visceral reaction to them and decided that Rothko's art would be the 'muse' for my piece. I felt I needed to see for myself each of the Rothko paintings I would ultimately be setting to music. Having neither the time nor the resources to travel around the world, I decided to choose among those works that would be the most readily accessible. After spending a significant amount of time researching Rothko's entire catalog, I found four works that resonated with me: Orange, Yellow, Red and Wine. These four paintings appealed to me because of their distinct characteristics as well as their similarities, allowing me to create a narrative for the music."

The composer also provided the following discussion of Finding Rothko by Dr. Luke Howard: "Finding Rothko was Schoenberg's first real professional commission, arranged by Michael Stern for the IRIS Orchestra, and written in 2006 while the composer was just beginning doctoral studies at Juilliard. Although played without a break, the work is in four distinct movements, each devoted to a specific Rothko painting and named after the principal color used in the painting. These four moveme...nts are delineated and linked by a gentle three-chord motif the composer has labeled 'Rothko's theme.' "Finding Rothko doesn't try to portray Rothko's use of color and shape, or attempt to 'set' the paintings to music. The artworks are simply a pretext, an inspiration. Yet the choice of paintings and the color connections between them formed a narrative in the composer's imagination that is expressed clearly in the music. Orange [Untitled (Violet, Black, Orange, Yellow on White and Red), 1949, oil on canvas, Guggenheim Museum, New York City] opens with 'Rothko's theme' and is somewhat atmospheric — a Copland-esque dawn, perhaps. The composer describes it as 'a reflective moment yet to be fully realized.' Yellow [No. 5/No. 22, 1949, oil on canvas, Museum of Modern Art, New York City], on the other hand, 'is the realization of that moment,' and the most upbeat of the four movements, beginning with a rocking minimalist accompaniment that gradually expands into a broad, bright landscape. The painting on which Yellow was based includes a streak of red, providing an immediate narrative connection to the third movement. Red [No. 301 (Reds and Violet over Red/Red and Blue over Red), 1959, oil on canvas, Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art] is intense, drawing on the saturated colors of the painting — the composer interpreted that intensity in the movement's jagged, irregular rhythms and mercurial personality. The final movement, Wine [No. 9 (White and Black on Wine), 1958, oil on canvas, private collection], is based on the last of the four paintings Schoenberg saw in person. It was the most difficult to locate and gain access to, and the journey to find it inspired the spirit of the piece and is the source of its title. Wine repeats 'Rothko's theme' and develops it gradually through slow, haunting phrases toward a shining final apotheosis."

Beethoven Piano Concerto No. 1 in C major, Op. 15About this Music

Composed in 1795; revised in 1800. Premiered in December 18, 1795 in Vienna, with the composer as soloist.

"His genius, his magnetic personality were acknowledged by all, and there was, besides, a gaiety and animation about the young Beethoven that people found immensely attractive. The troubles of boyhood were behind him: his father had died very shortly after his departure from Bonn, and by 1795 his brothers were established in Vienna, Caspar Karl as a musician, Johann as an apothecary. During his first few months in the capital, he had indeed been desperately poor, depending very largely on the small salary allowed him by the Elector of Bonn. But that was all over now. He had no responsibilities, and his music was bringing in enough to keep him in something like affluence. He had a servant, for a short time he even had a horse; he bought smart clothes, he learned to dance (though not with much success), and there is even mention of his wearing a wig! We must not allow our picture of the later Beethoven to throw its dark colors over these years of his early triumphs. He was a young giant exulting in his strength and his success, and a youthful confidence gave him a buoyancy that was both attractive and infectious. Even in 1791, before he left Bonn, Carl Junker could describe him as 'this amiable, lighthearted man.' And in Vienna he had much to raise his spirits and nothing (at first) to depress them."

Peter Latham painted this cheerful picture of the young Beethoven as Vienna knew him during his twenties, the years before his deafness, his recurring illnesses and his titanic struggles with his mature compositions had produced the familiar, dour figure of his later years. Beethoven came to Vienna for good in 1792, having made an unsuccessful foray in 1787, and quickly attracted attention for his piano playing, at which he bested such local keyboard luminaries as Daniel Steibelt and Joseph Wölffl to become the rage of the music-mad Austrian capital. His appeal was in an almost untamed, passionate, novel quality in both his manner of performance and his personality, characteristics that first intrigued and then captivated those who heard him. Václav Tomášek, an important Czech composer who heard Beethoven play the C major Concerto in Prague in 1798, wrote, "His grand style of playing had an extraordinary effect on me. I felt so shaken that for several days I could not bring myself to touch the piano."

Beethoven, largely self-taught as a pianist, did not follow in the model of sparkling technical perfection for which Mozart, who died only a few months before Beethoven's arrival, was well remembered in Vienna. He was vastly more impetuous and less precise at the keyboard, as Harold Schonberg described him in his fascinating study of The Great Pianists: "[His playing] was overwhelming not so much because Beethoven was a great virtuoso (which he probably wasn't), but because he had an ocean-like surge and depth that made all other playing sound like the trickle of a rivulet.... No piano was safe with Beethoven. There is plenty of evidence that Beethoven was a most lively figure at the keyboard, just as he was on the podium.... Czerny, who hailed Beethoven's 'titanic execution,' apologizes for his messiness [i.e., snapping strings and breaking hammers] by saying that he demanded too much from the pianos then being made. Which is very true; and which is also a polite way of saying that Beethoven banged the hell out of the piano."

Beethoven composed the first four of his five mature piano concertos for his own concerts. (Two juvenile essays in the genre are discounted in the numbering.) Both the Concerto No. 1 in C major and the Concerto No. 2 in B-flat major were composed in 1795, the Second probably premiered at the Burgtheater on March 29th and the First at a concert under Joseph Haydn's direction on December 18th; both works were revised before their publication in 1801. Beethoven's C major Concerto sprang from the rich Viennese musical tradition of Haydn and Mozart, with which he was intimately acquainted: he had taken some composition lessons with Haydn soon after his arrival, and he had profound affection for and knowledge of Mozart's work. At a performance of Mozart's C minor Piano Concerto (K. 491), he whispered to his companion, John Cramer, "Cramer, Cramer! We shall never be able to do anything like that!" The opening movement of the First Piano Concerto is indebted to Mozart for its handling of the concerto-sonata form, for its technique of orchestration, and for the manner in which piano and orchestra are integrated. Beethoven added to these quintessential qualities of the Classical concerto a wider-ranging harmony, a more openly virtuosic role for the soloist and a certain emotional weight characteristic of his large works. The second movement is a richly colored song with an important part for the solo clarinet. The rondo-finale is written in an infectious manner reminiscent of Haydn, brimming with high spirits and good humor.

Mozart Symphony No. 40 in G minor, K. 550About this Music

Composed in 1788.

"Music is the heart of God, and Mozart is His voice." So says the character of Antonio Salieri, the court composer to Austrian Emperor Joseph II, who is portrayed by Peter Shaffer in his brilliant (but misleading in its puerile characterization of the title character) play/movie Amadeus as being maniacally jealous of his young competitor. Shaffer, also known for the gripping drama Equus, spent two years in reading and research in an attempt to understand the life, works and personality of Mozart. As has everyone else, he came up against a solid wall of bafflement in trying to fathom this particular genius which has never known an equal in the entire history of music. The perfection of form coupled with the depth and purity of feeling heard in Mozart's compositions cannot be explained by any exercise of mere human logic. It surpasses our limited purview, and, lacking any other inkling of comprehension, one is forced to admit that Mozart's inspiration might, indeed, have been "divine." Shaffer-Salieri echoes the sentiments of George Bernard Shaw, who believed that Sarastro's arias in The Magic Flute were the only music fit to issue from the mouth of God.

At no time was the separation between Mozart's personal life and his transcendent music more apparent than in the summer of 1788, when, at the age of 32, he had only three years to live. His wife was ill and his own health was beginning to fail; his six-month-old daughter died on July 29th; Don Giovanni received a disappointing reception at its Viennese premiere on May 7th; he had small prospect of participating in any important concerts in the foreseeable future; and he was so impoverished and indebted that he would not answer a knock on the door for fear of finding a creditor there. Yet, amid all these difficulties, he produced, in less than two months, the three crowning jewels of his orchestral output, the Symphonies Nos. 39, 40 and 41.

The G minor alone of the last three symphonies may reflect the composer's distressed emotional state at the time of its composition. It is among those great works of Mozart that look forward to the passionately charged music of the 19th century while epitomizing the structural elegance of the waning Classical era. "It may be," wrote Eric Blom, "that the G minor Symphony is the work in which Classicism and Romanticism meet and where once and for all we see a perfect equilibrium between them, neither outweighing the other by the tiniest fraction. It is in this respect, at least, the perfect musical work."

The Symphony's pervading mood of tragic restlessness is established immediately at the outset by a simple, arpeggiated figure in the violas above which the violins play the agitated main theme. This melody is repeated with added woodwind chords to lead through a stormy transition to the second theme. After a moment of silence (a technique Mozart frequently used to emphasize important structural junctures), a contrasting, lyrical melody (in B-flat major) is shared by strings and winds. The respite from the movement's prevailing powerful energy provided by the dulcet second theme is brief, however, and the level of tension soon mounts again. The wondrous development section gives prominence to the fragmented main theme. The recapitulation returns the earlier themes in heightened settings.

The Andante, in sonata form (as are all the movements of Mozart's last six symphonies, save the minuets), uses rich chromatic harmonies and melodic half-steps to create a mood of brooding intensity and portentous asceticism. Much of the movement, especially the development, makes use of the repeated notes of the opening theme and the quick, fluttering figures of the second subject. Because of its somber minor-key harmonies, powerful irregular phrasing and dense texture, the Minuet of the Symphony No. 40 was judged by Arturo Toscanini to be one of the most darkly tragic pieces ever written. The character of the Minuet is emphasized by its contrast with the central trio, the only untroubled portion of the entire work.

The finale opens with a rocket theme that revives the insistent rhythmic energy of the first movement. The gentler second theme, with a full share of piquant chromatic inflections, slows the hurtling motion only briefly. The development section exhibits a contrapuntal ingenuity that few late 18th-century composers could match in technique, and none surpass in musicianship. A short but eloquent silence marks the beginning of the recapitulation, which maintains the Symphony's tragic mood to the closing page of the work.

ARTISTS
Peter Serkin pianoAbout this Artist

Peter Serkin was born in New York City and is the son of pianist Rudolf Serkin, and grandson of the influential violinist Adolf Busch, whose daughter Irene had married Rudolf Serkin. Peter was given the middle name Adolf in honor of his grandfather.

In 1958, at the age of 11, Serkin began studying at the Curtis Institute of Music where his teachers included the Polish pianist Mieczysław Horszowski, the American virtuoso Lee Luvisi, as well as his own father. He graduated in 1965. He also studied with Ernst Oster, flutist Marcel Moyse, and Karl Ulrich Schnabel.

His concert career began in 1959, when he first performed at the Marlboro Music Festival, a seminal agent and incubator of chamber music performance in the U.S., established in 1951 by the elder Serkin, Hermann and Adolf Busch, along with Marcel, Blanche and Louis Moyse. Following that performance, Peter Serkin was invited to play with major orchestras such as the Cleveland Orchestra under George Szell and the Philadelphia Orchestra with Eugene Ormandy.

In 1966, at the age of 19, Serkin was awarded the Grammy Award for Best New Classical Artist|Most Promising New Classical Recording Artist. Three of his recordings have won Grammy nominations (one of them features six Mozart concertos; the two others feature the music of Olivier Messiaen) and his recordings have won other awards. Serkin was the first pianist to receive the Premio Internazionale Musicale Chigiana award and he received an honorary doctorate from the New England Conservatory of Music in 2001.

In 1968, shortly after marrying and becoming a father, Peter Serkin decided to stop playing music altogether. In the winter of 1971, he, his wife, and baby daughter Karina moved to a small rural town in Mexico. About eight months later, on a Sunday morning, Serkin heard the music of Johann Sebastian Bach being broadcast over the radio from a neighbour's house. As he listened, he says, "It became clear to me that I should play." He returned to the U.S. and began his musical career anew.

Since then, Serkin has performed around the world with leading orchestras and such conductors as Claudio Abbado, Daniel Barenboim, Herbert Blomstedt, Pierre Boulez, Simon Rattle, James Levine, and Christoph Eschenbach. He has made numerous recordings, on such labels as RCA Victor, featuring music from Bach (including four recordings of the Goldberg Variations - the first made when he was 18, the fourth when he was 47), Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert, Chopin, Brahms, and Dvořák as well as numerous more recent composers such as Reger, Berg, Webern, Schoenberg, Messiaen, Takemitsu, Oliver Knussen, Peter Lieberson, Stefan Wolpe and Charles Wuorinen.

Serkin is a committed performer of new and recent music, having premiered or been the dedicatee of many new works by such composers as Takemitsu, Lieberson, Knussen, Wuorinen and Elliott Carter. The American composer Ned Rorem writes of Serkin, "His uniqueness lies, as I hear it, in a friendly rather than over-awed approach to the classics, which nonetheless plays with the care and brio that is in the family blood, and he's not afraid to be ugly. He approaches contemporary music with the same depth as he does the classics, and he is unique among the superstars in that he approaches it at all."

Among prominent virtuosi, Peter Serkin was one of the first to experiment with period fortepianos, and the first to record late Beethoven sonatas on pianos of both the modern as well as Beethoven's era. Serkin has collaborated with Yo-Yo Ma, Lorraine Hunt Lieberson, András Schiff, Alexander Schneider, Pamela Frank, Harold Wright, the Guarneri Quartet, the Budapest Quartet, and other prominent musicians and ensembles, such as principal wind players of major American orchestras. In addition, he is one of the founding members of TASHI and has recorded for a variety of labels. He has taught at the Juilliard School and the Curtis Institute of Music and currently is on faculty at the Bard College Conservatory of Music as well as other institutions. Among those who have studied piano with him are Orit Wolf, Simone Dinnerstein, and Cecile Licad.

He has five children and two grandchildren and lives in Massachusetts with his wife Regina.

Michael Stern conductorAbout this Artist

Michael Stern BioMichael Stern founded IRIS Orchestra in 2000, and holds the title of founding Artistic Director and Principal Conductor. Under Stern's direction, IRIS has been unanimously heralded for the brilliance of its playing, its varied programming with special emphasis on American contemporary music, and for its acclaimed recordings on the Naxos and Arabesque labels. IRIS has embraced as a central part of its mission a deep commitment to furthering American composers and has commissioned works by Stephen Hartke, Richard Danielpour, Edgar Meyer, Adam Schoenberg, Jonathan Leshnoff, and Ellen Taaffe Zwilich, among others.

The 2009-10 season also marks Stern's fifth as Music Director of the Kansas City Symphony. Their performances in the inaugural year were greeted universally with public and critical acclaim, and since then the orchestra has been hailed for its remarkable artistic and institutional growth and development. The Symphony and Stern have already made three recordings together; their latest disc, titled "Britten's Orchestra" was released in November of 2009 under the Reference Recordings label, and has glowing rave reviews.

In 2000 Stern concluded his tenure as chief conductor of Germany's Saarbrücken Radio Symphony Orchestra. The first American chief conductor in the orchestra's history, he was offered the post almost immediately after making his debut with them in March 1996. In addition to their work in concert, for broadcast and tour Stern and the orchestra made several recordings of American repertoire, notably a disc of Henry Cowell's works, as well as a series devoted to the music of Charles Ives, including a live recorded performance of the "Universe" Symphony and their first recording of the "Emerson" piano concerto.

In September 1991, he was appointed permanent guest conductor of the Orchestre National de Lyon in France, a position which he held for four years. He has also appeared with the national orchestras of Paris, Bordeaux, Toulouse. Last year, he bena a three year stint as the Principal Guest Conductor of the Orchestre National de Lille. Elsewhere, Stern has led such orchestras as the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic, the Oslo Philharmonic, the Bergen Symphony, the Beethovenhalle Orchestra in Bonn, the Deutsche Symphoniker (DSO) in Berlin, the Budapest Radio Symphony Orchestra, the Israel Philharmonic, the Moscow Philharmonic, the Helsinki Philharmonic, the Santa Cecilia Orchestra in Rome, the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra in Munich, and the Chamber Orchestra of Lausanne. He has also been a frequent guest conductor of the Tonhalle Orchestra in Zurich and has recorded both with that orchestra and with the London Philharmonic for Denton Records. In the United Kingdom, he has conducted the London Symphony, the London Philharmonic, the BBC Symphony (London), and the English Chamber Orchestra. Stern has appeared in the Far East with such orchestras as the National Symphony of Taiwan, the Singapore Symphony and Tokyo's NHK Symphony, and he has toured China with the Vienna Radio Symphony.

In North America, Michael Stern has conducted the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, the Philadelphia Orchestra, the Pittsburg Symphony, New York Philharmonic, the Saint Louis Symphony, the Atlanta Symphony, the Houston Symphony, the Baltimore Symphony, the Toronto Symphony, the National Arts Centre Orchestra in Ottawa, the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, the Montreal Symphony Orchestra, the Indianapolis Symphony, and the National Symphony in Washington, D.C., among many others. He also appears regularly at the Aspen Music Festival and has taught at American Academy of Conducting at Aspen. From 1986 to 1991, Stern was the assistant conductor of the Cleveland Orchestra. In September 1986, he made his New York Philharmonic debut as one of three young conductors invited by Leonard Bernstein to participate in a conducting workshop that culminated in two concerts at Avery Fisher Hall.

Stern received his degree from the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia, where his major teacher was the noted conductor and scholar Max Rudolf (whose famous textbook, "The Grammar of Conducting," Stern co-edited for its third edition). He also edited a new volume of Rudolf 's collected writings and correspondence, published by Pendragon Press. His studies have included two summers at the Pierre Monteux Memorial School in Hancock, Main, under the tutelage of Charles Bruck. Born in 1959, Michael Stern is a graduate of Harvard University, where he earned a degree in American History in 1981. He makes his home in Kansas City and in New York with his wife, Shelly Cryer, and their two daughters Hannon and Nora.

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Young Romantics Benjamin Hochman
YOUNG ROMANTICS
IRIS Orchestra
Michael Stern, conductor
Featuring: Benjamin Hochman, pianist

Date: Saturday, February 22, 2014
Time: 8:00 PM
Location: GPAC (Directions)


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Before he achieved renown as the musical half of Gilbert & Sullivan, Arthur Sullivan was a student at the conservatory in Leipzig, where native son Felix Mendelssohn was revered. The central inspiration for Sullivan's colorful and enormously inventive "Tempest" was Mendelssohn's incidental music to Shakespeare's "A Midsummer Night's Dream"; the success of the "Tempest" launched the young Sullivan's career. We hear the master's voice directly in Mendelssohn's brilliant First Piano Concerto, performed by the poetic young pianist Benjamin Hochman in his IRIS debut. The impact of Mendelssohn's inspiration on his contemporary Robert Schumann is clear in the triumphant, glorious Second Symphony, testament to the rich romantic climate that nourished these three singular composers.

PROGRAM
Sullivan Incidental Music from "The Tempest"About this Music

Composed in 1860-1861. Premiered on April 6, 1861 at the Leipzig Conservatory, conducted by the composer.

The boy is father to the man, so the saying goes, and the renown that Arthur Sullivan obtained in later life grew directly from the musical nurture of his childhood. Born in London in 1842, he grew up in Sandhurst, where his father was appointed bandmaster at the Royal Military College when Arthur was three. He was taught early on to play piano and the wind instruments, and began composing at age eight. Two years later he was accepted as a chorister in the Chapel Royal, the sacred-music contingent of the royal household, where he received intensive training from Thomas Helmore, master of the choristers (in whose house he lived). In 1856, Sullivan competed for and won the first Mendelssohn Scholarship, recently established by British friends and admirers in memory of that composer, then dead just nine years. The emolument enabled Sullivan to study piano with William Sterndale Bennett and composition with John Goss for two years at the Royal Academy of Music in London, and it was renewed in 1856 to allow him to attend the Leipzig Conservatory, founded by Mendelssohn in 1842 and then one of the finest music schools in the world. Sullivan capped his five years of training in Germany — piano with Ignaz Moscheles, composition with Julius Rietz, conducting with Ferdinand David — by writing a concert suite inspired by Shakespeare's The Tempest that was modeled on Mendelssohn's Midsummer Night's Dream; he conducted the work to considerable acclaim as part of his graduation examinations on April 6, 1861. Sullivan returned to London that summer and soon befriended George Grove, secretary of the Crystal Palace concerts (and, later, founder of the famed music dictionary). Grove scheduled The Tempest for performance there, and it brought Sullivan his first wide notoriety when August Manns conducted several movements from it on April 12, 1862. "A success was obtained by the young musician of which he, and those who first discerned the germs of talent in him, may well feel proud," reported The Times. The concert was repeated a week later to satisfy popular demand. In January 1863 in Manchester, Charles Hallé conducted the complete score — nearly an hour of music that included instrumental movements, solo songs, melodrama (text spoken above a musical background) and choruses — whose success convinced Charles Calvert to use it for a production of the original play he staged at the city's Prince's Theatre in October 1864. Sullivan himself frequently conducted the Tempest music at his concerts in Britain and America in later years.

The orchestral suite from Sullivan's Music to Shakespeare's "The Tempest" includes seven varied numbers that confirm not only the nineteen-year-old composer's precocious technical skills but also his sense of theater: Introduction; Prelude to Act III; Banquet Dance; Overture to Act IV; Dance of Nymphs and Reapers; Prelude to Act V; and Epilogue.

Mendelssohn Piano Concerto No. 1 in G minor, Op. 25About this Music

Composed in 1830. Premiered on October 17, 1831 in Munich, with the composer as soloist.

Immediately following his epochal revival performance of Bach's St. Matthew Passion in Berlin on March 11, 1829, Felix Mendelssohn, age twenty, set out on a grand musical tour of Europe. The first leg of the journey took him to England and Scotland, a junket that inspired the Hebrides Overture and the "Scottish" Symphony. He returned home to Berlin late in the year, refused a professorship at the university there, and in May headed for Weimar (where he visited his old friend Johann Wolfgang von Goethe) and Munich. Mendelssohn, young, attractive, charming and cultured, was welcomed into society wherever he went, and in Munich he spent an evening, according to his June 11th letter to his sister Fanny, at "a great soirée [where] Excellencies and Counts went about as thick as fowls in a poultry yard. Also artists and other cultivated minds." At the party, he met one Delphine von Schauroth, "who is adored here (and deservedly), her mother being a baroness, and she herself a fine pianist and very cultivated. I followed her around like a little lamb.... I really wanted to say that the girl plays very well ... she genuinely impressed me."

On June 26th, Mendelssohn confessed that he was visiting Fräulein Schauroth "twice a week, where I stay for a long time. We flirt outrageously — but it is not dangerous." Or, perhaps, it was, as he later confided to Robert Schumann. At any rate, by the end of the summer the peripatetic bon vivant was again on his way, through Linz and Vienna and Pressburg (where he witnessed the coronation of the King of Hungary), arriving in Venice on October 10th: "Italy at last ... and I am basking in it." A month later he passed through Florence on his way to Rome, where he met Berlioz, admired the paintings and artworks, and regularly listened to the music at St. Peter's. (His father, son of one of the era's most eminent Jewish philosophers, had him baptized into Christianity in 1816.) From Rome in November, he told Fanny that he was sketching a piano concerto "for Paris," which he of course planned to conquer the following year, though actually the work seems to have been inspired by his thoughts of Delphine. He stayed in Rome through the following June, working on the Hebrides Overture, the "Italian" and "Scottish" Symphonies and the concerto, and then headed north through Milan, Chamonix and Lucerne, arriving again in Munich by early October. He saw Delphine regularly, and even said that she contributed a passage to the gestating concerto. The concert that he had planned for soon after his arrival had to be postponed for a week because of that Bavarian ritual, Oktoberfest, but on October 17th he unveiled the G minor Piano Concerto to an enthusiastic audience. Even King Ludwig appeared at the event, and "during the intermission he caught me by the arm, praised me highly and inquired about everything under the sun, and whether I was related to Bartholdy whom he often visits in Rome, since Bartholdy's house there was the cradle of modern art, and etc., and etc." In another letter, however, Mendelssohn revealed the ulterior purpose of Ludwig's little chat: "The main thing that the King said to me, though, was that I should marry Fräulein von Schauroth; that would be an excellent match, and why didn't I want to do it? That, from a king, annoyed me, and, somewhat piqued, I was going to answer him, when he, not even waiting for my answer, jumped to a different subject, and then to a third...." The romance was much discussed among the city's society (and by composer's family, which opposed the match), but Mendelssohn left Munich for Paris in late November, still single. He never again saw Delphine on intimate terms, and mentioned her only once or twice in his later correspondence.

With the exception of the Midsummer Night's Dream Overture, the G minor Concerto may well have been Mendelssohn's greatest success during his lifetime. He recorded that when he first played it in London in 1832 "the audience went wild and declared it my best work." Liszt created a sensation when he gave it in Paris. It quickly made the rounds of all the music capitals, and was perhaps the most frequently heard concerto of its time. So ubiquitous was it that Hector Berlioz, in one of his Evenings in the Orchestra, reported on a piano that had endured so many performances of the work by a passing horde of virtuosi that it started to play the piece all by itself. Possessed, it could not be stopped: "M. Erard [maker of the piano] arrives; but try as he will, the piano, which is out of its mind, has no intention of minding him either. He sends for holy water and sprinkles the keyboard with it — in vain: proof that it wasn't witchcraft, but the natural result of thirty performances of one concerto. They take the instrument and remove the keyboard, still moving up and down, and throw it into the middle of the courtyard of the warehouse. There M. Erard in a fury has chopped it up with an ax. You think that did it? It made matters worse: each piece danced, jumped, frisked about separately — on the paving stones, between our legs, against the wall, in all directions, until the locksmith of the warehouse picked up this bedeviled mechanism in one armful and flung it into the fire of his forge to put an end to it. Poor M. Erard! Such a fine instrument! We were heartbroken, but what else could we do? There was no other way to loose its grip." Perhaps inevitably, the Concerto eventually slipped from favor, though it still makes an occasional gracious call upon the concert hall. "He played the piano as a lark soars, because it was his nature," wrote Ferdinand Hiller of Mendelssohn. "He possessed great adroitness, sureness, strength, fluency, a soft, full tone." These qualities, to which may be added a sense of controlled virtuosity, marked not only Mendelssohn's keyboard personality, but also his compositional style, and are abundantly evident in his First Piano Concerto.

The Concerto is disposed in the traditional three movements — fast–slow–fast — though, unlike the Classical model, these are instructed to be played without pause. (Mendelssohn abhorred applause between movements.) Among the Concerto's other forward-looking attributes: the excision of the opening orchestral introduction in favor of the immediate presentation of the soloist, a technique to which he returned in his two later concertos; the omission of a solo cadenza; and the return of the first movement's subsidiary melody in the finale. The opening movement (marked "Very fast, with fire") follows sonata form, though the return of its thematic materials is considerably compressed so as not to overwhelm the transition to the second movement. The Andante is a deliciously filigreed song-without-words given by the soloist above the rich-hued accompaniment of strings without violins. The finale is a glittering rondo prefaced by a mock-dramatic orchestral strain.

Schumann Symphony No. 2 in C major, Op. 61About this Music

Composed in 1845-1846. Premiered on November 5, 1846 in Leipzig, conducted by Felix Mendelssohn.

The years 1845 and 1846 were difficult ones for Schumann. In 1844 he had gone on a concert tour of Russia with his wife, Clara, one of the greatest pianists of the era, and he was frustrated and humiliated at being recognized only as the husband of the featured performer and not in his own right as a distinguished composer and critic. The couple's return to Leipzig found Robert nervous, depressed and suffering from occasional lapses of memory. He had a complete breakdown soon after, and his doctor advised the Schumanns to return to the quieter atmosphere of Dresden, where Robert had known happy times earlier in his life. They moved in October 1844, and Schumann recovered enough to completely sketch the Second Symphony in December of the following year. He began the orchestration in February, but many times found it impossible to work and could not finish the score until October.

Clara noted that her husband went night after night without sleep, arising in tears in the morning. His doctor described further symptoms: "So soon as he busied himself with intellectual matters, he was seized with fits of trembling, fatigue, coldness of the feet, and a state of mental distress culminating in a strange terror of death, which manifested itself in the fear inspired in him by heights, by rooms on an upper story, by all metal objects, even keys, and by medicines, and the fear of being poisoned." Schumann complained of continual ringing and roaring in his ears, and it was at times even painful for him to hear music. He was almost frantic for fear of losing his mind. His physical symptoms, he was convinced, were a direct result of his mental afflictions. He was wrong.

In an article in The Musical Times, Eric Sams investigated Schumann's illness, and his findings are both convincing and revealing. In those pre-antibiotic times, a common treatment for syphilis was a small dose of liquid mercury. The mercury relieved the external signs of the disease — but at the cost of poisoning the patient (victim?). Schumann, many years before his devoted marriage to Clara, had both the infection and the treatment. The problems he lamented — ringing ears, cold extremities, depression, sleeplessness, nerve damage — were the result of the mercury poisoning. Sensitive as he was, Schumann first imagined and then was truly afflicted with his other symptoms until he became ill in both mind and body. It was, however, an insidious physical problem that led to his psychological woes rather than the other way around, as he believed.

Seen against this background of pathetic suffering, Schumann's Second Symphony emerges as a miracle of the human spirit over the most trying circumstances. In his own words, "I was in bad shape physically when I began the work, and was afraid my semi-invalid state could be detected in the music. However, I began to feel more myself when I finished the whole work." Of the philosophical basis of the Symphony, undoubtedly related to Schumann's emotional state, Mosco Carner wrote, "The emotional drama in this Symphony leads from the fierce struggle with sinister forces (first movement) to triumphant victory (finale), while the intervening stages are febrile restlessness (scherzo) and profound melancholy (adagio)." This progression from darkness to light as a musical process had its noble precedents in the Fifth and Ninth Symphonies of Beethoven, a musician whom Schumann revered, and it is probable that Schumann envisioned the construction of his Second Symphony as a mirror of his return to health during its composition.

This Symphony is the most formally traditional of the four that Schumann wrote. It comprises four independent movements closely allied to Classical models. The sonata-allegro of the first movement is prefaced by a slow introduction which presents a majestic, fanfare-like theme in the brass and a sinuous, legato melody in the strings. (The brass theme recurs several times during the course of the work and serves as a motto linking this first movement with later ones.) The tempo quickens to begin the exposition, with the main theme heard in jagged, dotted rhythms. The second theme continues the mood of the main theme to complete the short exposition. The lengthy development section is mostly based on the second theme. The recapitulation employs a rich orchestral palette to heighten the return of the exposition's themes, with the fanfare-motto heard briefly in the coda to conclude the movement. The scherzo ("Schumann's happiest essay in this form," according to Robert Schauffler) has two trios: the first dominated by triplet rhythms in the woodwinds, the second by a legato chorale for strings. The horns and trumpets intone the motto theme at the end of the movement. The wonderful third movement is constructed around a nostalgic melody, one of Schumann's greatest inspirations, first presented by the violins. A brief, pedantic contrapuntal exercise acts as a middle section, after which the lovely theme returns. The brilliant and vigorous finale is cast in sonata-allegro form, with a second theme derived from the opening notes of the melody of the preceding adagio. The majestic coda begins with a soft restatement of the motto theme by trumpets and trombone, and gradually blossoms into a heroic hymn of victory in the full brass choir. It is a grand conclusion to a work which displays, in Philip Spitta's ringing phrases, "grave and mature depth of feeling, bold decisiveness of form and overpowering wealth of expression."

ARTISTS
Benjamin Hochman pianoAbout this Artist

Winner of 2011's prestigious Avery Fisher Career Grant, pianist Benjamin Hochman has been described by the New York Times as a "gifted, fast-rising artist". His eloquent and virtuosic performances have earned him critical acclaim and his rare combination of bravura and poetry has excited audiences and critics alike. His engagements have brought him to major cities as orchestral soloist, recitalist and chamber music collaborator with celebrated conductors and colleagues. A passionate interpreter of diverse composers from Bach and Mozart to Berg and Kurtag with a penchant for juxtaposing familiar works with the unfamiliar, Mr. Hochman has proven to be adept in expressing the essential heart of each composer.

After his successful recital debut in 2006 at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, he became a strong musical presence in New York through his concerts with the New York Philharmonic and the American Symphony Orchestra, his Carnegie Hall debut with the Israel Philharmonic and his continuous presence at 92nd Street Y. Mr. Hochman has performed with the Chicago, Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, Houston, Seattle, San Francisco, Vancouver, New Jersey and Portland Symphonies, the New York String Orchestra, Prague Philharmonia, Istanbul State Orchestra and the National Arts Centre Orchestra in Canada under eminent conductors such as Kazuyoshi Akiyama, Leon Botstein, Nir Kabaretti, Jaime Laredo, Jun Märkl, Daniel Meyer, Lucas Richman, Bramwell Tovey, Joshua Weilerstein, Kaspar Zehnder and Pinchas Zukerman. He has appeared in his native Israel with the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, Tel Aviv Soloists, the Raanana and Jerusalem Symphonies. Following his debut with the Chicago Symphony in a Mozart Piano Concerto project with Pinchas Zukerman and Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, he returned at the invitation of Emanuel Ax to participate in the 2012 "Keys to the City" Festival. During the festival he performed with the CSO, David Robertson, Trevor Pinnock, Orli Shaham, Kristian Bezuidenhout and Orion Weiss in two Mozart concertos and a recital of two-piano works by Ravel and Rachmaninoff.

Highlights of Mr. Hochman's 2012-2013 season include solo recitals in Boston and Tel Aviv and a tour of Mexico performing the music of Bach, Beethoven, Chopin, Schumann, Janacek and Ravel. He returns for his third subscription series engagement with the Pittsburgh Symphony in performances of Ravel's Concerto for the Left Hand Alone, conducted by Gianandrea Noseda and performs Saint-Saëns's Carnival of the Animals in his debut with the Los Angeles Philharmonic at the Hollywood Bowl, Beethoven's Piano Concerto No. 1 with the Vancouver Symphony and Ravel's Piano Concerto in G Major with the Phoenix Symphony. He takes part in two chamber performances of Stravinsky, Beethoven and Fauréat New York's 92nd Street Y with Jaime Laredo, Steven Tenenbom and Sharon Robinson and collaborates with the Escher String Quartet in Buffalo and Bethlehem, Efe Baltacigil at the Philadelphia Chamber Music Society, the Orchestra of St. Luke's in Brooklyn and Manhattan and at the Schubert Club's "Accordo" series with members of the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra.

In 2009, he released his first album on Artek entitled Introducing Benjamin Hochman, featuring Bach's Partita No. 4 in D and Partita No. 6 in E minor, Berg's Sonata, Op. 1 and Webern's Variations Op. 27. He recorded Insects and Paper Airplanes: The Chamber Music of Lawrence Dillon in 2010 for Bridge Records. His forthcoming recording, entitled Hommage to Schubert featuring Schubert's Sonata in A, D. 664 and Sonata in D, D. 850 alongside Jorg Widmann's "Idyll und Abgrund: Six Schubert Reminiscences" and Kurtag's "Hommage to Schubert" will be released by Avie Records in 2013.

Past festival highlights include Marlboro, Ravinia, Caramoor, Santa Fe, Bard, Gilmore, Vail and Vancouver in North America, as well as international festivals such as Lucerne, Spoleto, Verbier, Ruhr, Israel Festival and Prussia Cove. Mr. Hochman has performed internationally at such major halls as the Concertgebouw, the Louvre, Tivoli Theatre, l'Auditori de Barcelona, Suntory Hall in Tokyo and Kumho Art Hall in Seoul. A masterful collaborator, Benjamin Hochman has worked with the Tokyo, Mendelssohn, Casals, Prazak and Daedalus Quartets, Zukerman ChamberPlayers, members of the Guarneri, Juilliard and Orion Quartets, Jonathan Biss, Jaime Laredo, Cho-Liang Lin and Ani Kavafian, Miklós Perényi, Ralph Kirshbaum and Sharon Robinson. A dedicated advocate for contemporary music, he has performed works by Kurtág, Carter, Lutoslawski and Andriessen, and has worked closely with such notable composers as Krzysztof Penderecki, Philippe Hurel, Osvaldo Golijov, Lawrence Dillon and Tania Leon, among others.

Benjamin Hochman has previously been selected to participate in prestigious residencies around the world such as CMS Two at the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, Isaac Stern's International Chamber Music Encounters in Israel and Carnegie Hall's Professional Training Workshops with Osvaldo Golijov and Dawn Upshaw.

In addition to the 2011 Avery Fisher Career Grant, Mr. Hochman received the "Outstanding Pianist" citation at the Verbier Academy, the Festorazzi Award from the Curtis Institute of Music, second prize at the Melbourne International Chamber Music Competition, the "Partosh Prize" awarded by the Israeli Minister of Culture for best performance of an Israeli work and first prize at the National Piano Competition of the Rubin Academy of Music in Jerusalem. His performances have been broadcast on National Public Radio's Young Artist Showcase and Performance Today, WNET's Sunday Arts, WQXR, CBC (Canada), ABC (Australia), Radio France and Israel's Voice of Music radio station, as well as on the European television network Mezzo.

Born in Jerusalem, Benjamin Hochman began his studies with Esther Narkiss at the Conservatory of the Rubin Academy in Jerusalem and Emanuel Krasovsky in Tel Aviv. He is a graduate of the Curtis Institute of Music and the Mannes College of Music where his principal teachers were Claude Frank and Richard Goode. His studies were supported by the America-Israel Cultural Foundation. He is currently on the piano faculty of the Longy School of Music of Bard College. Benjamin Hochman is a Steinway Artist and lives in New York City with his wife, violinist Jennifer Koh. His website is http://www.benjaminhochman.com.

Michael Stern conductorAbout this Artist

Michael Stern BioMichael Stern founded IRIS Orchestra in 2000, and holds the title of founding Artistic Director and Principal Conductor. Under Stern's direction, IRIS has been unanimously heralded for the brilliance of its playing, its varied programming with special emphasis on American contemporary music, and for its acclaimed recordings on the Naxos and Arabesque labels. IRIS has embraced as a central part of its mission a deep commitment to furthering American composers and has commissioned works by Stephen Hartke, Richard Danielpour, Edgar Meyer, Adam Schoenberg, Jonathan Leshnoff, and Ellen Taaffe Zwilich, among others.

The 2009-10 season also marks Stern's fifth as Music Director of the Kansas City Symphony. Their performances in the inaugural year were greeted universally with public and critical acclaim, and since then the orchestra has been hailed for its remarkable artistic and institutional growth and development. The Symphony and Stern have already made three recordings together; their latest disc, titled "Britten's Orchestra" was released in November of 2009 under the Reference Recordings label, and has glowing rave reviews.

In 2000 Stern concluded his tenure as chief conductor of Germany's Saarbrücken Radio Symphony Orchestra. The first American chief conductor in the orchestra's history, he was offered the post almost immediately after making his debut with them in March 1996. In addition to their work in concert, for broadcast and tour Stern and the orchestra made several recordings of American repertoire, notably a disc of Henry Cowell's works, as well as a series devoted to the music of Charles Ives, including a live recorded performance of the "Universe" Symphony and their first recording of the "Emerson" piano concerto.

In September 1991, he was appointed permanent guest conductor of the Orchestre National de Lyon in France, a position which he held for four years. He has also appeared with the national orchestras of Paris, Bordeaux, Toulouse. Last year, he bena a three year stint as the Principal Guest Conductor of the Orchestre National de Lille. Elsewhere, Stern has led such orchestras as the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic, the Oslo Philharmonic, the Bergen Symphony, the Beethovenhalle Orchestra in Bonn, the Deutsche Symphoniker (DSO) in Berlin, the Budapest Radio Symphony Orchestra, the Israel Philharmonic, the Moscow Philharmonic, the Helsinki Philharmonic, the Santa Cecilia Orchestra in Rome, the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra in Munich, and the Chamber Orchestra of Lausanne. He has also been a frequent guest conductor of the Tonhalle Orchestra in Zurich and has recorded both with that orchestra and with the London Philharmonic for Denton Records. In the United Kingdom, he has conducted the London Symphony, the London Philharmonic, the BBC Symphony (London), and the English Chamber Orchestra. Stern has appeared in the Far East with such orchestras as the National Symphony of Taiwan, the Singapore Symphony and Tokyo's NHK Symphony, and he has toured China with the Vienna Radio Symphony.

In North America, Michael Stern has conducted the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, the Philadelphia Orchestra, the Pittsburg Symphony, New York Philharmonic, the Saint Louis Symphony, the Atlanta Symphony, the Houston Symphony, the Baltimore Symphony, the Toronto Symphony, the National Arts Centre Orchestra in Ottawa, the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, the Montreal Symphony Orchestra, the Indianapolis Symphony, and the National Symphony in Washington, D.C., among many others. He also appears regularly at the Aspen Music Festival and has taught at American Academy of Conducting at Aspen. From 1986 to 1991, Stern was the assistant conductor of the Cleveland Orchestra. In September 1986, he made his New York Philharmonic debut as one of three young conductors invited by Leonard Bernstein to participate in a conducting workshop that culminated in two concerts at Avery Fisher Hall.

Stern received his degree from the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia, where his major teacher was the noted conductor and scholar Max Rudolf (whose famous textbook, "The Grammar of Conducting," Stern co-edited for its third edition). He also edited a new volume of Rudolf 's collected writings and correspondence, published by Pendragon Press. His studies have included two summers at the Pierre Monteux Memorial School in Hancock, Main, under the tutelage of Charles Bruck. Born in 1959, Michael Stern is a graduate of Harvard University, where he earned a degree in American History in 1981. He makes his home in Kansas City and in New York with his wife, Shelly Cryer, and their two daughters Hannon and Nora.

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The Company We Keep Michael Stern
THE COMPANY WE KEEP
IRIS Orchestra
Michael Stern, conductor
Featuring: IRIS Orchestra
Date: Saturday, March 15, 2014
Time: 8:00 PM
Location: GPAC (Directions)

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The Sinfonia Concertante is a quintessential Haydn masterpiece: sparkling, challenging, joyous. The solo turns for violin, cello, oboe and bassoon become perfect vehicles for the inspiring virtuosity of the members of IRIS. The orchestra welcomes back a treasured member of the IRIS family: Jonathan Leshnoff's beautiful and expressively original music has been part of the IRIS performing and recording repertoire since 2005; IRIS commissioned and premiered his ebullient, energetic "Rush" in 2009. Concluding the program is another beloved friend: the pastoral Second Symphony of Brahms, which IRIS last played almost 10 years ago, one of the great achievements in Western music.

 

PROGRAM
Leshnoff RushAbout this Music

Composed in 2008. Premiered on January 31, 2009 by the IRIS Orchestra in Germantown, Tennessee, conducted by Michael Stern.

Jonathan Leshnoff is winning an international reputation as one of America's most gifted composers. His works have been programmed and commissioned by the Baltimore, Curtis Institute, Buffalo, Kansas City, Columbus (Ohio), Oakland, Duluth, IRIS, Kyoto, Extremadura (Spain), National Repertory, National Symphony of Mexico, Baltimore Chamber and Boca Raton orchestras, Da Capo Chamber Ensemble, Smithsonian's Twentieth Century Consort, "The President's Own" United States Marine Band and other noted ensembles and soloists; he is currently Composer-in-Residence with the Baltimore Chamber Orchestra. Three recordings devoted to Leshnoff's music are included in Naxos' "American Classics" series: one contains the Symphony No. 1 ("Forgotten Chants and Refrains") and Rush, both premiered by Michael Stern and the IRIS Orchestra of Germantown, Tennessee; the second release features the Violin Concerto, performed by violinist Charles Wetherbee and the Baltimore Chamber Orchestra, conducted by Markand Thakar; the third disc contains Leshnoff's chamber music in performances by IRIS musicians.

Leshnoff's honors include two ASCAP Morton Gould Young Composer Awards, Honorable Mention in the Rudolph Nissim Prize and an Artist Award from the Maryland State Arts Council. Among his recent premieres are Starburst (April 2010, performed by the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra conducted by Marin Alsop), Flute Concerto (March 2011, written for Philadelphia Orchestra principal flutist Jeffrey Khaner), Yiddish Suite (April 2011, introduced by violinist Gil and pianist Orli Shaham) and Cello Concerto (March 2013, premiered by the Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia, soloist Nina Kotova and conductor Dirk Brossé). His current projects include a concerto for guitarist Manuel Barrueco and the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, and the Quartet No. 4 for the Carpe Diem String Quartet.

Jonathan Leshnoff was born in New Brunswick, New Jersey in 1973, and simultaneously earned undergraduate degrees in anthropology from Johns Hopkins University and in music composition from the Peabody Conservatory in Baltimore; he completed his doctoral work at the University of Maryland. Since 2001, he has been on the faculty of Towson University in Maryland, where he is now Professor of Music. The mood of Rush (2008) is set by the opening moments of the dynamic opening section, which presents the unifying motive from which the work grows. Contrast is provided by a gentler episode led by a clarinet solo suspended above colorful chords in the strings. The energetic music of the opening returns and climaxes in a fury, but then stops abruptly for a reprise of the suspended episode. The work closes with an extended harp solo.

Rush was commissioned by Dr. Jeremiah German, Professor Emeritus in the Department of Economics at Towson University and a devoted music lover who was also instrumental in the commissioning of Leshnoff's Violin Concerto and Double Concerto. The score is dedicated to David DePeters, who, along with IRIS Music Director Michael Stern, has strongly supported Leshnoff's work. Mr. DePeters is known to IRIS audiences as the ensemble's Orchestra Manager, overseeing the myriad details regarding production and performances, but he also carries on a parallel career as a well-known percussionist based in Philadelphia.

Haydn Sinfonia ConcertanteAbout this Music

Composed in 1792. Premiered on March 9, 1792 in London, conducted by the composer.

Haydn's first visit to England, from January 1791 until the summer of the following year, was one of the happiest times of his life. His health was good, his works were acclaimed, he was entertained royally (literally), and he was the talk of the town. His concerts, sponsored by the violinist-impresario Johann Peter Salomon, began in March 1791, and were received with an enthusiasm such as has not been seen for a composer since the heyday of that chief British musical luminary, Handel. The honorary doctorate of music Haydn received from Oxford University in July was a fitting culmination of his glamorously successful first season.

In December 1791, a former pupil of Haydn's appeared in London to announce that he, too, was going to give a series of concerts in the British capital, one that would rival those produced by Salomon. Ignaz Joseph Pleyel, however, was not interested in alienating his old teacher, but rather in sharing the interest in music that Haydn's programs in London had created. He called on his master soon after arriving to convey his greetings, and told him that, out of respect, the first piece on his opening concert in February would be a symphony by Haydn. Pleyel also confided to him that he was composing a new work, a "sinfonia concertante," for a group of six solo instruments with orchestral accompaniment. Pleyel had been living in Paris where such pieces — concerted works for two or more soloists — were much in demand in the 1780s. Several Parisian publishers did a brisk trade in sinfonie concertante, and the pieces were favorites with the public. Mozart's splendid example for violin and viola (K. 364), as well as his Flute and Harp Concerto (K. 299), the Two Piano Concerto (K. 365) and other works grew from contact with the sinfonia concertante on his trip to Paris in 1778. It occurred to Haydn (with, as can easily be imagined, more than a bit of prompting from his impresario Salomon) that he should also compose a "sinfonia concertante" as a friendly competitor to Pleyel's exercise.

Pleyel's opening concert, on February 27, 1792 in the elegant Hanover Square Rooms, made a fine success with its Haydn symphony and the new Sinfonia Concertante. Just over a week later, however, Haydn unveiled his own Sinfonia Concertante at the concert of March 9th, and Pleyel's work was quickly overshadowed. The London Morning Chronicle reported, "Haydn's Sinfonia Concertante combined with all the excellencies of music; it was profound, airy, affecting, and original, and the performance was in unison with the merit of the composition. SALOMON [the same Salomon who produced the concert] particularly exerted himself as violinist on this occasion, in doing justice to the music of his friend HAYDN." So favorable was the impression made at this first hearing that audiences demanded the score be played again on the following week's concert. Haydn also chose to include it on the London concert for his benefit on May 3rd.

The reasons for the popularity of Haydn's Sinfonia Concertante, his only venture in the genre, are not hard to find. In common with the best of his "London" Symphonies, it is melodically infectious, rhythmically invigorating, harmonically inventive and a great deal of fun. The solo group comprises two pairs of instruments chosen to provide high-low register contrasts as well as variety of string and wind sound: oboe and bassoon, and violin and cello. The first movement, cast in a large sonata form, trots along at a merry pace. The full orchestra makes the traditional attempt to present all the thematic material before the soloists begin, but the jolly little band is ready to get on with things, and takes over as quickly as decorum will allow. Following their entry, the show belongs to the soloists, and quite a show it is. Each has a chance not only at virtuosic display, but also at intricate ensemble work with the other featured players. (The difficulty of the parts is testimony to the high quality of Haydn's musicians at the London concerts.) Such fresh, cheerful and high-spirited music reflects Haydn's sunny mood and lovable personality better than any letters, portraits or written accounts ever could.

The second movement is a lovely chamber piece for the four soloists to which the orchestra adds little more than visual presence. Haydn here balanced the unadorned presentation of a sweet, simple song with exactly the right amount of decorative figuration to perfectly counterpoise the extremes of plainness and excess. It is precisely such a quality that 18th-century connoisseurs meant when they noted a composer had "taste." It was the highest compliment (next to plentiful sales) that could be given to a musician in 1792.

Haydn is often credited with a keen sense of humor in his music. One of the most important ways in which he achieved this wit was through quick juxtapositions of contrasting material. In the finale, these contrasts and the humor are so broad that they almost seem to mimic a farcical operatic scene. The orchestra opens the scene with a jolly peasant dance. The lamenting contralto (solo violin in recitative) lumbers forward to ask who has stolen her husband, or whatever, and temporarily halts the merriment. The dancers ignore her for six measures of brisk whirling about, until she erupts with a more impassioned plea. To no avail. So she does the only sensible thing — takes up the intoxicating dance tune and leads the company through a merry festival. Near the end of the finale, she recalls the quest for her husband, and again recites her ponderous questions. Her presence of mind still not having deserted her, however, she now knows that dancing is more fun than ululation, and the joyful entertainment continues to the end.

Brahms Symphony No. 2 in D major, Op. 73About this Music

Composed in 1877. Premiered on December 30, 1877 in Vienna, conducted by Hans Richter.

In the summer of 1877, Brahms repaired to the village of Pörtschach in the Carinthian hills of southern Austria. He wrote to a Viennese friend, "Pörtschach is an exquisite spot, and I have found a lovely and apparently pleasant abode in the Castle! You may tell everybody this; it will impress them.... The place is replete with Austrian coziness and kindheartedness." The lovely country surroundings inspired Brahms' creativity to such a degree that he wrote to the critic Eduard Hanslick, "So many melodies fly about, one must be careful not to tread on them." Brahms plucked from the gentle Pörtschach breezes a surfeit of beautiful music for his Second Symphony, which was apparently written quickly during that summer — a great contrast to the fifteen-year gestation of the preceding symphony. He brought the finished manuscript with him when he returned to Vienna at the end of the summer.

After the premiere, Brahms himself allowed that the Second Symphony "sounded so merry and tender, as though it were especially written for a newly wedded couple." Early listeners heard in it "a glimpse of Nature, a spring day amid soft mosses, springing woods, birds' notes and the bloom of flowers." Richard Specht, the composer's biographer, found it "suffused with the sunshine and warm winds playing on the waters." The conductor Felix Weingartner thought it the best of Brahms' four symphonies: "The stream of invention has never flowed so fresh and spontaneous in other works by Brahms, and nowhere else has he colored his orchestration so successfully." To which critic Olin Downes added, "In his own way, and sometimes with long sentences, he formulates his thought, and the music has the rich chromaticism, depth of shadow and significance of detail that characterize a Rembrandt portrait."

The Symphony opens with a three-note motive, presented softly by the low strings, which is the germ seed from which much of the thematic material of the movement grows. The horns sing the principal theme, which includes, in its third measure, the three-note motive. The sweet second theme is given in duet by the cellos and violas. The development begins with the horn's main theme, but is mostly concerned with permutations of the three-note motive around which some stormy emotional sentences accumulate. The placid mood of the opening returns with the recapitulation, and remains largely undisturbed until the end of the movement.

The second movement plumbs the deepest emotions in the Symphony. Many of its early listeners found it difficult to understand because they failed to perceive that, in constructing the four broad paragraphs comprising the Second Symphony, Brahms deemed it necessary to balance the radiant first movement with music of thoughtfulness and introspection in the second. This movement actually covers a wide range of sentiments, shifting, as it does, between light and shade — major and minor. Its form is sonata-allegro, whose second theme is a gently syncopated strain intoned by the woodwinds above the cellos' pizzicato notes.

The following Allegretto is a delightful musical sleight-of-hand. The oboe presents a naive, folk-like tune in moderate triple meter as the movement's principal theme. The strings take over the melody in the first Trio, but play it in an energetic duple-meter transformation. The return of the sedate original theme is again interrupted by another quick-tempo variation, this one a further development of motives from Trio I. A final traversal of the main theme closes this delectable movement.

The finale bubbles with the rhythmic energy and high spirits of a Haydn symphony. The main theme starts with a unison gesture in the strings, but soon becomes harmonically active and spreads through the orchestra. The second theme is a broad, hymnal melody initiated by the strings. The development section, like that of many of Haydn's finales, begins with a statement of the main theme in the tonic before branching into discussion of the movement's motives. The recapitulation recalls the earlier themes, and leads with an inexorable drive through the triumphant coda (based on the hymnal melody) to the brazen glow of the final trombone chord.

ARTISTS
Jonathan Leshnoff composerAbout this Artist

Jonathan Leshnoff has already won an international reputation as one of America's most gifted young composers. The New Jersey-born composer is riding the crest of a wave of popularity that includes the Philadelphia Orchestra premiere of his flute concerto with Robert Spano and Jeffrey Khaner, a Carnegie Hall co-commission of a song cycle for Jessica Rivera, and a new guitar concerto for Manuel Barrueco, co-commissioned by the Baltimore and Asturias Symphonies. His other symphonic performances include the Atlanta, Kansas City, Buffalo, Kyoto, Curtis Institute, IRIS, Concert Opéra de Toulon, Santa Barbara, Tucson, Amarillo, Fort Wayne, Memphis, Harrisburg, Fairfax, Duluth-Superior, Columbus, Boca Raton, Extremedura, National Gallery of Art, Handel Choir of Dartmouth Symphonies, the Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia and the Baltimore Chamber Orchestra.

The first of three recordings devoted exclusively to Leshnoff's music was released on the Naxos "American Classics" label and selected among Naxos's top 40 CDs. It includes his Violin Concerto, performed by violinist Charles Wetherbee and the Baltimore Chamber Orchestra, conducted by Markand Thakar. Other Naxos releases feature his Symphony No. 1 conducted by Michael Stern and the IRIS Chamber Orchestra, and Leshnoff's chamber music.

Named by the Washington Post as one of the "gifted young composers around," Jonathan Leshnoff's music has been lauded by Strings Magazine as "quite distinct from anything else that's out there," by the Memphis Commercial Appeal as "a fluid, thoughtful work, superbly textured and unafraid to be intellectual," and by the Baltimore Sun as "remarkably assured, cohesively constructed and radiantly lyrical." The New York Times declared that "the afternoon's keenest discovery was Mr. Leshnoff."

Mr. Leshnoff's catalogue includes 4 string quartets, 2 oratorios, 7 concerti, trios, a string sextet, a symphony and numerous solo and chamber works. Current projects include a second symphony and a clarinet concerto. The award-winning Leshnoff, a Professor of Music at Towson University, is composer-in-residence with the Baltimore Chamber Orchestra.

Michael Stern conductorAbout this Artist

Michael Stern BioMichael Stern founded IRIS Orchestra in 2000, and holds the title of founding Artistic Director and Principal Conductor. Under Stern's direction, IRIS has been unanimously heralded for the brilliance of its playing, its varied programming with special emphasis on American contemporary music, and for its acclaimed recordings on the Naxos and Arabesque labels. IRIS has embraced as a central part of its mission a deep commitment to furthering American composers and has commissioned works by Stephen Hartke, Richard Danielpour, Edgar Meyer, Adam Schoenberg, Jonathan Leshnoff, and Ellen Taaffe Zwilich, among others.

The 2009-10 season also marks Stern's fifth as Music Director of the Kansas City Symphony. Their performances in the inaugural year were greeted universally with public and critical acclaim, and since then the orchestra has been hailed for its remarkable artistic and institutional growth and development. The Symphony and Stern have already made three recordings together; their latest disc, titled "Britten's Orchestra" was released in November of 2009 under the Reference Recordings label, and has glowing rave reviews.

In 2000 Stern concluded his tenure as chief conductor of Germany's Saarbrücken Radio Symphony Orchestra. The first American chief conductor in the orchestra's history, he was offered the post almost immediately after making his debut with them in March 1996. In addition to their work in concert, for broadcast and tour Stern and the orchestra made several recordings of American repertoire, notably a disc of Henry Cowell's works, as well as a series devoted to the music of Charles Ives, including a live recorded performance of the "Universe" Symphony and their first recording of the "Emerson" piano concerto.

In September 1991, he was appointed permanent guest conductor of the Orchestre National de Lyon in France, a position which he held for four years. He has also appeared with the national orchestras of Paris, Bordeaux, Toulouse. Last year, he bena a three year stint as the Principal Guest Conductor of the Orchestre National de Lille. Elsewhere, Stern has led such orchestras as the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic, the Oslo Philharmonic, the Bergen Symphony, the Beethovenhalle Orchestra in Bonn, the Deutsche Symphoniker (DSO) in Berlin, the Budapest Radio Symphony Orchestra, the Israel Philharmonic, the Moscow Philharmonic, the Helsinki Philharmonic, the Santa Cecilia Orchestra in Rome, the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra in Munich, and the Chamber Orchestra of Lausanne. He has also been a frequent guest conductor of the Tonhalle Orchestra in Zurich and has recorded both with that orchestra and with the London Philharmonic for Denton Records. In the United Kingdom, he has conducted the London Symphony, the London Philharmonic, the BBC Symphony (London), and the English Chamber Orchestra. Stern has appeared in the Far East with such orchestras as the National Symphony of Taiwan, the Singapore Symphony and Tokyo's NHK Symphony, and he has toured China with the Vienna Radio Symphony.

In North America, Michael Stern has conducted the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, the Philadelphia Orchestra, the Pittsburg Symphony, New York Philharmonic, the Saint Louis Symphony, the Atlanta Symphony, the Houston Symphony, the Baltimore Symphony, the Toronto Symphony, the National Arts Centre Orchestra in Ottawa, the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, the Montreal Symphony Orchestra, the Indianapolis Symphony, and the National Symphony in Washington, D.C., among many others. He also appears regularly at the Aspen Music Festival and has taught at American Academy of Conducting at Aspen. From 1986 to 1991, Stern was the assistant conductor of the Cleveland Orchestra. In September 1986, he made his New York Philharmonic debut as one of three young conductors invited by Leonard Bernstein to participate in a conducting workshop that culminated in two concerts at Avery Fisher Hall.

Stern received his degree from the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia, where his major teacher was the noted conductor and scholar Max Rudolf (whose famous textbook, "The Grammar of Conducting," Stern co-edited for its third edition). He also edited a new volume of Rudolf 's collected writings and correspondence, published by Pendragon Press. His studies have included two summers at the Pierre Monteux Memorial School in Hancock, Main, under the tutelage of Charles Bruck. Born in 1959, Michael Stern is a graduate of Harvard University, where he earned a degree in American History in 1981. He makes his home in Kansas City and in New York with his wife, Shelly Cryer, and their two daughters Hannon and Nora.

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